Silent House

"Daddy, what did they do to you?"


by Britni McDonald

While most kids were watching Sesame Street and Barney, I was watching Child's Play and Friday the 13th. Actually, I loved Sesame Street and Barney too. The point is I've loved horror movies since I was a kid.

My mom told me when we used to go to this small rental place in Allegany, New York on Friday nights when I was about three... They'd be looking at wholesome family movies, and I'd be perusing the horror section. I'd grab Texas Chainsaw Massacre every time and beg my mom to let me rent it. Of course she wouldn't. Something about the thrill and intensity of horror intrigued me even then (could be attributed to the corruption that comes from having an older brother... Hi Matt). So since I've been watching these movies for such a long time (and work in news), I've become a little desensitized, making it much harder to genuinely scare me. And as I've always said, it's the hardest genre to get right. So when a horror movie actually gets to me, heart beating a mile a minute, I know it's good! That being said... I was literally on the edge of my seat with my hands over my mouth during this entire movie.

What made this film so great is simple. It was stripped down to the bare essentials: good acting and even better technique.

Silent House caught my attention in the trailers because it was actually advertised as a "real time" movie. I'm not sure how many average viewers even knew what that would entail, but it sparked my interest. I knew I'd be taken on a unique journey, and that's exactly what it was.

Many horror movies jump from scene to scene, but in Silent House, you followed along in first person perspective. You only knew what Sarah knew, only saw what she saw, making the mystery even more intense.

And when I say the movie was stripped down to the bare essentials, I'm not just talking about the absence of special effects. There wasn't even any music, which I thought was artistically brilliant. It brought a realism to the film many horror movies lack. It made every movement seem that much longer, every turn around the corner that much more intense, the anticipation almost unbearable.

Along with the format of the movie was brilliant camerawork. Because the movie was in first person perspective, effective camera movements were crucial. They needed to take you along the ride realistically, only showing you what you needed to see but without driving you crazy or losing your interest. The cameras walked with her, ran with her, thus making the audience walk with her, run with her. Brilliant.

But of course without good acting, these technicalities would have been all for naught. I haven't seen Elizabeth Olsen (Sarah) in anything else, but her performance in this one was spot on. Because there were no added music, scene cuts, or effects, it was up to her to keep the movie moving. The actor determined the pace of the movie. There were moments when it was only her heavy breathing or terrified face holding the scene together and keeping the thrill high.

And if all of this isn't enough, it ends with a twisted twist that'll make you want to go back and watch it all over again.

So if I haven't already made it clear, if you're wanting a thrill ride, go see this!

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