It would be easy to dismiss Silent House as gimmick film trying to be clever, but then you would miss out on a pretty great little horror film. A remake of 2010's Uruguayan film La Casa Muda, Silent House bills itself as being presented in a single shot, and while this ends up not being entirely true it is one of the most intriguing parts of the movie.
Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) is staying at a dilapidated old house with her father and her uncle, the three of them cleaning it out and fixing it up in the hopes of selling it. Sarah runs into a local girl who claims they used to know each other back when Sarah and her family lived in the house. Sarah's uncle heads into town for supplies. As she begins to pack up one room, she hears her father attacked. Trapped in the house with an unknown assailant, she struggles to find some way to escape while staying alive.
As mentioned before, Silent House bills itself as being a single continuous shot, and while in reality the film was actually done as a series of 10 to 15 minute scenes with the splits well disguised in places where the camera has no actors on screen what they technically achieved is still quite impressive because it feels like a long single take. The feature length commentary on the film explains how the camera men choreographed movements and handoffs, sometimes through windows. The directors reveals secrets of hidden doors and pauses to allow crew to shift positions to give the illusion of empty rooms. But the greatest effect of the appearance of a single camera using a single shot in real time is that it evokes an intimacy with the character of Sarah. The entire movie is her point of view on what she experiences. There is no screen time without her in it or her just out of the shot.
Silent House captures completely the feeling of fear and desperation of Sarah, which should be no surprise coming from the people who brought us Open Water which perfectly captured the feeling of being lost at sea and prey to waiting sharks.
I'm reluctant to call Silent House a masterpiece, but it is a truly excellent film that has earned a prominent place in my collection.