I finally saw Chris Kentis and Laura Lau‘s Silent House (Open Road, 3.9) last night, having missed it at Sundance 2011. I also managed to miss Gustavo Hernandez‘s Uruguyan original, which the Kentis-Lau version is a remake of, at the Director’s Fortnight section of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.
My son Dylan didn’t care for the final third and I, too, had issues with this portion, which wanders into Johnny Favorite territory. But the single-take “real time” aspect — it gives the impression of being one continual 88-minute hand-held shot — won me over as an exercise alone. On top of which Kentis-Lau are trying to revive the creepy-scary Repulsion vibe — showing very little, relying mainly on sounds, forcing the imagination to do the work. This alone puts Silent House heads and shoulders above most horror pics. So at the very least I applaud the effort even if I found some of the action and payoff material bothersome and misleading.
Elizabeth Olsen totally carries the film as Sara, the terrorized lead. Her costars (Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross, Haley Murphy) aren’t given a chance to do anything that might stick in your mind, at least from a performance standpoint.
The most noteworthy “real time” films in my book are Rope (’48), The Set-Up (’49), High Noon (’52), 12 Angry Men (’57), Nick of Time (’95), Run Lola Run (’98), Phone Booth (’03), Before Sunset (’04), The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (’05) and United 93 (’06). Wait, didn’t United 93 go in for a little compression here and there?