Sunday, August 3, 2014

3 Short Paragraphs: Silent House

2011, Chris Kentis, Laura Lau (Open Water) -- download

This is a remake of the 2010 Spanish (Uruguay) movie La Casa Muda, which was supposed to part of our last Days of Halloween run but dropped out because of terrible sub-titling. Its made by the people behind that floating-while-waiting-to-be-eaten-by-sharks movie, Open Water. The original writer returns for this English language version. Both are shot in single take style (as opposed to really, truly one take), thus in real time, inside a house that holds a dark secret and doesn't want to give up the heroine Sarah, played by Elizabeth Olsen. The rest of the characters are toss away, just barely supporting the focus on Sarah.

Sarah and her father arrive at the Old Family House. It is being emptied and inspected, for the prospect of being put on the market. Its an Old House, something shared by the extended family, but really only used in the summer and has been recently vandalized by local kids. The windows are boarded up, the electricity is non existent and Sarah really doesn't want to be there. There is an immediate creepiness about the way her father and uncle interact with each other, and with her. Soon after the two arrive, Uncle Peter (who was in the basement, looking for mold) leaves the two alone, and daddy leaves Sarah to herself, to start cleaning up the room she used. And that is when things become horror movie.

I was thinking, as I watched this dark & grim house, that just the tone, music and lighting can turn an old house that must be ripe with family memories, from something warm into something downright sinister. But as the movie progresses, Sarah being stalked by an unseen figure, her father brutalized and the house becoming almost inescapable, things fall together so damn well. There is a reason behind the labyrinthian basement, the darkness that absorbs the light, even in daylight, and Sarah's "hide under the bed sheets" reaction to everything. Even the overplayed, misplaced sexuality so prevalent in other movies has its explainable place here. This is a sold psychological horror, and I now must go back and find the original for comparison viewing.