Friday, 4 May 2012



Another day, another unremarkable remake trundles along the conveyor. Much of Hollywood - thankfully not all, but a hell of a lot of it - seems to have just given up on producing any genre movies of significant or lasting value, being content merely to buy up something they saw on holiday and simply make it again, but without those pesky subtitles getting in the way. For the Neanderthal halfwits unwilling or unable to engage with a movie that doesn't originate from an English-speaking country, for the dumbasses who'd sooner watch a worthless American movie than a good French, Spanish, Asian or Scandinavian one, such pointless wastes of film stock as the shiny American versions of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, [Rec] and Shutter are created. Nothing is brought to the table but English dialogue. And here's another one.

It's not as if there wasn't room for some added depth in Silent House, since for most of the time it's a film of great simplicity: girl stuck in spooky house, possibly pursued by maniac or ghost. Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) and her father and uncle are clearing out their lakeside summer house with a view to selling it off, but no sooner have they arrived than there are noises off, Dad disappears and Sarah is left alone - or is she? Is there someone upstairs? Or in the basement? With no cellphones and no electricity, the doors locked and Uncle Peter having taken the car, can she escape or can she even survive whatever's in there with her?

The original film, La Casa Muda, was a Uruguayan movie that was perfectly decent and had some genuinely creepy sequences, but it fell apart towards the end and the central gimmick of it all being shot in one long 86-minute take was not only unwarranted (there's no reason why it couldn't have been made as a regular film) but open to question based on the memory capacity of the camera used and the large number of potential cutting points (such as when the camera passes behind the actors or the furniture). This American retread similarly hamstrings itself with the decision to pretend it's all one long shot: it obviously isn't, and some of the cuts aren't that well hidden. In exactly the same way as the Uruguayan film, it makes good use of the darkness and the clutter (and a Polaroid camera), and has some very well timed jump moments, but the last twenty minutes that purport to explain something of what was going on don't make things any clearer than the finale of La Casa Muda.

Given the choice between original and transliteration, why bother with the copy? Yes, it's got younger Olsen sister Elizabeth Olsen from Martha Marcy May Marlene in it (the camera seems fixated on her cleavage on several occasions), and it certainly does make you jump a few times, so it more or less passes muster as a watchable if overly dark "scare the broad" horror movie. But the one-take gimmick is unnecessary: not just because it's already been done but because it denies the use of editing that could have made the film so much more. It's not awful, it's not "utter rubbish" as the bloke in front announced as the end credits rolled, but there's really no point in it actually existing.


No comments: