Reviewed by Johnny McNair

Universal Studios – 86 min – 2012 – Rated R -1080p – 1.85:1 widescreen – DTS-HD 5.1 Audio – Digital Copy

Silent House is not a great horror/thriller, but it is incredibly ambitious and worth watching just because it attempts to display the entire movie in real-time. That is one continuous shot from beginning to end. This technique has been used in various films, but it’s usually just one scene, such as the famous shot in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas where Henry and Karen enter the nightclub from the back and walk all the way through the interior to the main area as the camera follows them without a single cut. To date, Alfred Hitcock’s film ‘Rope’ is the most successful attempt at making the one continuous shot movie, and Silent House tries to use that as film as its template. Silent House comes to Blu-ray from Universal, and though it may not scare you, if you’re a filmmaker you will appreciate the method used.


A young woman named Sarah (played by Elizabeth Olsen) returns to her family’s old lakeside home joined by her father John (Adam Trese) and uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer). They’re attempting to make some repairs to the place so they can sell it and move one with their lives. Things quickly get odd when Sarah hears noises in the house and when her father goes to see what it is; they discover that someone else is in the house. The unseen intruder attacks her father, leaving him for dead and Sarah is left to fend for herself alone in the house. She moves from room to room, hiding and looking for a way to escape, but a mystery about her past begins to unravel leading to a dark secret comes to light in the finale.

The first half hour of Silent House is well done, and the main reason it works is because of Elizabeth Olsen’s performance (she’s obviously the talented one in the Olsen family). Her reaction to what is occurring around her and natural, making her character relatable. Unfortunately the second half of this film begins to crumble until by the end, the ground just collapses completely. Directed by the husband and wife team Laura Lau and Chris Kentis, who made the hit 2003 indie film Open Water, Silent House is a remake of the movie La Casa Muda. The directors’ cinematic ambitious stands out much more than the story itself, because the camera itself becomes one of the characters of the film, and you (through the camera) are seeing the events happen just as the characters do. If more focus was given to the script, this movie would have been a game changer in the likes of The Blair Witch Project.

Though this film attempts to give the illusion it was shot in one continuous take, it wasn’t. There are clever edits hidden in the dark that makes everything flow uninterrupted. The film was shot using various Canon EOS 5D Mark II cameras, which are standard consumer cameras that most people own and use to take pictures of their kid’s dance recital. The HD memory card capacity for most digital SLR cameras is roughly 12 minutes, so each shot was done consciously in one long run and then assembled with a little movie magic.

Silent House may not be for everyone, especially anyone who is fed up with the “shakey-cam” because this film has plenty of it. As an experiment, the film works and will entice you to watch it again, just to see if your eyes can pick out at which points the edits are inserted. Elizabeth Olsen is without a thought the standout of the movie, and there are not many young actresses out there who could have made this character work. Rent this film and watch it, then read up on how it was made and watch it again to get the full effect.


For a film shot by a camera that you can purchase from, the image quality is pretty good. The 1080p resolution is packed into a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and thought it looks soft in places because of the lighting restraints, it’s not a deal breaker. You will not see every line on someone’s face or be bale to count every stand of hair on Elizabeth Olsen’s head, but it looks far better than anything you will see in a Paranormal Activity flick. The film takes place mostly in dark interiors that are lit by hand lanterns, but blacks still look decent and grain is not an issue. This is not a standout Blu-ray presentation, but knowing the back-story on how the film was shot, this is still a very satisfactory transfer.


The DTS-HD 5.1 audio track is acceptable, but don’t expect your usually top-notch sound effects bonanza. The filmmakers wanted the sound to be as natural as possible, so most of the sound effects are as they were done while shooting with very little tweaks. The dialogue is low in places and you may have to rewind to hear something you missed. Background noises such as footsteps upstairs or Olsen’s screams fill the speakers evenly without over-modulating. Overall, the audio quality is decent, but just don’t expect any bells and whistles.


If this Blu-ray provided an informative making of feature, giving details of what went into filming, it would have been the icing on the cake. Instead there is only and audio commentary track by the filmmakers Chris Kentis and Laura Lau. This track is worth a listen, but because of the guerilla style filmmaking that went into making the film you will wish there was some on the set footage to compliment it. This is a real let down.


Silent House is not a major Blu-ray experience, but it worth a rental so you can decide if you want to own it. The standout elements are Elizabeth Olsen’s performance and the process of making a feature length movie as one continuous shot that was filmed using a high-end consumer DSLR camera.

SCORES (Out of 5):

The Movie: 2.5

Video: 3.0

Sound: 3.0

Extras: 2.0

Bottom Line: 3.0