The Silent House (La Casa Muda) (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner07/04/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 86 mins

Impressively directed and brilliantly shot, this is a genuinely creepy, superbly acted horror flick with a cleverly thought out central gimmick that creates an intensely claustrophobic atmosphere.

What's it all about?
Directed by Gustavo Hernandez, The Silent House is allegedly based on an unsolved mystery from 1944 and stars Florencia Colucci as Laura, a teenage girl in rural Uruguay who agrees to help her handyman father Wilson (Gustavo Alonso) restore a remote cottage belonging to Wilson's friend Nestor (Abel Tripaldi). When they arrive, Nestor tells them not to go upstairs but when Wilson disappears after investigating some mysterious overhead banging noises, Laura is forced to go upstairs after him with only a lamp to guide her ...

The Good
Like Alfred Hitchcock's Rope, The Silent House claims to be shot in one continuous take, although, as with Rope, it's safe to assume that any time the screen goes completely dark, editing tricks were employed. At any rate, the gimmick works extremely well, forcing us to experience Laura's ordeal in real-time and creating an intensely claustrophobic atmosphere, heightened by cinematographer Pedro Luque’s exceptional lighting.

There's hardly any dialogue but the film exerts a tight grip throughout; this is largely thanks to Colucci's assured performance as Laura, with her skinny physique and skimpy attire making her nerve-wrackingly vulnerable as she tiptoes around the pitch black house. In addition, the superb score makes effective use of nursery rhyme motifs to heighten the already deeply creepy atmosphere still further.

The Bad
Without giving too much away, the main problem with the film is that the resolution isn't quite as clever as it thinks it is and is arguably detrimental to what's gone before, though at least it'll generate a decent amount of post-film pub discussion. Similarly, at least one element of the finale feels like a tired and predictable cliché that really ought to be retired for a few years.

Needless to say, the film has already been remade in the English language, so see the original version while you still can. Also, make sure you stay until after the end credits, because the film continues for another ten minutes or so.

Worth seeing?
Despite a few flaws, The Silent House is a gripping, genuinely creepy and powerfully atmospheric horror flick that marks director Gustavo Hernandez out as a talent to watch. Worth seeking out.

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Content updated: 16/07/2018 00:15

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