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The Silent House

Subprime mortgages are more frightening.

Rod Lott September 7th, 2011

Imagine walking around in the dark of an old, rundown, abandoned house in the middle of nowhere with a frightened teenage girl for an hour or so. Or give your noodle a rest by watching "The Silent House," which does it for you.


The Uruguay no-budgeter quite audaciously is presented in one continuous take — or at least claims to be; like Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope," there are several obvious opportunities in place to "cheat." It also claims to be based on true events. The plot, what little there is, finds the aforementioned Laura (newcomer Florencia Colucci) helping her father (Gustavo Alonso) clean up the titular abode in order to make it sellable.

Despite it still being light outside, they grab a blanket and a chair, and set off to sleep. Immediately, Laura is jostled by a loud noise. Dad goes off to check it out, we hear him scream, and Laura grabs a lantern to go looking for him. And looking. And looking.

The house isn't that big by any stretch, but freshman director Gustavo Hernández stages things as if it were a jerry-rigged labyrinth for a neighborhood haunted house, complete with hanging sheets of Visqueen. As strange sounds multiply in volume and number, it's clear that Laura is not alone. But is the threat human or supernatural? Or both?

The answer is of less worth than the question, complete with a "twist" that not only comes from nowhere, but makes no sense given everything that comes before. It's downright contradictory. Sit through the end credits for a final scene of several minutes that will add to viewers' perplexed nature.

"The Silent House" gets off two or three "boo"s, most effectively in a Polaroid sequence that reveals what resides in the darkness, but that's it. For all its ambition, the film fails to provide a payoff. An American remake already is in the can, from the "Open Water" team. Here's hoping theirs is better. —Rod Lott

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