Gustavo Hernández’s 2010 Uruguayan horror film was always going to be remade. The uninterrupted one take twist flick was thin on story but nail bitingly high on tension, placing us with a father and daughter intent on cleaning out their isolated country house, who become under attack by unseen people or forces lurking inside. The story, easily transposed to “somewhere in America” isn’t particularly altered or expanded on, the tale, with it’s twist, remains more or less the same and an opportunity to better an average technical feat slips film Open Water makers Chris Kentis and Laura Lau by.
Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen), her father John (Adam Trese) and uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens) are this time the folks in peril. Their lakeside house has, in the past, been a target for squatters and thieves as the boards on the windows and doors would contest. It seems to be forever night inside the Silent House and so, with only a few lanterns and torches, the spring cleaning must be done. When John disappears inside the large lake house and the bumps and shuffles upstairs become booms and thumps, the poor young Sarah becomes increasingly frantic. Especially when she realises, of course, that she definitely isn’t alone.
Kentis and Lau shakily follow Olsen around the house, searching for the front door keys and her father. While the tension is well produced and well acted by the wonderful Olsen, whose performance in last year’s truly excellent Martha Marcy May Marlene was a beautiful shock, there is serious character weight missing from Silent House. We know that Sarah and school don’t get on and we know she’s broken up with her boy friend but there is little beyond that to make us fear for her life instead of her predicament.
Admittedly the charismatic Olsen, the well timed shocks and the atmosphere inside Silent House do wonders to buoy it’s flimsy terror and it would be an acceptably scary experience on a rainy night in. Sadly there is little else here bar the one shot technicality for real time thrills and it remains definitively on a pile of flakey empty remakes boldly labeled “why?”.