Monday 20 November 2017

Tension mounts in creepy caper

Paul Whitington

silent house

(16, general release, 85 minutes )

Director: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau Stars: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens


Anyone who saw the excellent Martha Marcy May Marlene will know that Elizabeth Olsen is a talented young actress. In that harrowing film, she displayed considerable range as a traumatised woman, but in Silent House only one emotion is required of her -- fear.

She's pretty good at emitting it too, in a stylishly made but dramatically flimsy film that was shot to give the impression of a real-time, continuous take.

Olsen (above) is Sarah, a seemingly laidback young woman who has come to her family's remote holiday home to help her father and uncle clean it up.

The place has gone to rack and ruin and the windows have been boarded up due to repeated break-ins. In other words, it's creepy, and when Sarah is alone in it with her father, odd things begin happening. Sarah becomes convinced there's a stranger in the house, and that she and her father are in danger. Nothing more can safely be said about the plot, which hinges on a major twist.

One thing directors Laura Lau and Chris Kentis do well is establish a sense of tension: shooting close with handheld cameras, they create a claustrophobic momentum that drives their story along, and there are clever touches such as a scene lit entirely by the flash of a polaroid camera.

But the aforementioned twist can be seen from a mile off, and seems poor recompense for sitting through this cleverly made but exceedingly vacuous film.

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