Director: Gustavo Hernandez
Cast: Florencia Colucci, Abel Tripaldi, Gustavo Alonso
Plot: A father and his daughter (Colucci), clean an abandoned house out for its new owner, aware of the danger lying within.
When I was at University, I was invited to a screening for an independent film, hoping to be voted Foreign Film of the Year here in Britain. I went along, totally not expecting one of the scariest films I have ever been subjected to.
The genius of this film is that it is shot in real time. The moment Florencia Colucci’s Laura emerges from the car at the start of the movie, the camera angle remains fixed on our heroine. There is no cutting away from the horror of this movie, which is one of the most horrific things about it. In most horror movies, the gruesome stuff is often edited out, with some nifty cuts. Even when the first five minutes show us a prolonged shot of Laura looking around the outside of the house, we slowly begin to realise that there will be no cutting away when the horror kicks in. That is the disturbing feeling that settles down on you, as the movie builds itself up; you are trapped in the nightmare. In fact, this is a clever directional choice from Hernandez. The trapped style of the filming echoes the character’s plight. When they enter the house, they don’t manage to escape the confines of the house. Like us, they cannot escape from the nightmare of the Silent House.
And the nightmare is intense. The build-up is slow yet works so well, because you are trapped in this strange space of mind where you want to get to the scares, yet you know that they will scare the hell out of you. It starts off subtle: the shape of a mysterious figure in the background, the rattling of a childhood toy. Even though, the set is little more than the confines of this cramped house, the movie never feels as though it is stretching its run-time out to an unbelievable level. As Laura explores the house, dripping with fear at the thing watching her in the darkness, she uncovers clues to what is going on. Slowly, the eerie tone is lifted and we see the true horror of what lies in the Silent House. It is a tough watch. The most shocking moment of the entire film is easily when Laura is trapped in the pitch black with her only source of light coming from the camera in her hands. When she takes a photo, the flash gives her a second of light to see where she is going. Of course, we all know where the jump scare is coming from, yet it isn’t diluted by the predictability at all. In fact, the director cleverly plays with the idea that we all know what is waiting for us around the corner.
Then the ending had to go and ruin it all. Well, no matter how terrible the close of the movie is, I shall still take away a fantastically entertaining movie, but it would have been nice if it didn’t trip over its own feet at the end. There is some shock ending that some writer thought was bound to win them some awards. It doesn’t make sense; and I mean at all. In fact, it kills a second viewing, because the scares aren’t even logical anymore. I like twists to give the viewer that little bit of enlightenment on an element of the story that suddenly makes the rest of the movie make sense. It is why I loved the second chapter of Insidious more than anyone else; it totally did that. Here, it seemed as though the writer wanted to do something cool and unpredictable for the finish of the movie, but didn’t properly think it through. Therefore, no matter how chilling those final few moments were (hands up, that final shot was directed really well), I cannot forgive that the Silent House has transcended into ridiculousness.
Final Verdict: Ending aside, the Silent House is a terrifically filmed horror, providing some great jump scares and chilling set-pieces.