Review: ‘The Silent House’

Only marginally boosted by an aesthetic that never cuts the camera.

From “Rope” to “Russian Ark,” single-take features have presented a thrilling cinematic challenge, with director Gustavo Hernandez claiming to have made the first single-take horror film in Uruguayan chiller “The Silent House.” But there’s apparently good reason for the scarcity of precedent. Getting an “E” for effort but a lower-case “s” for scares, this fairly classic home-invasion story is only marginally boosted by an aesthetic that never cuts the camera. Yet it’s precisely such cuts one longs for, and alongside the rudimentary plot, this Directors’ Fortnight selection reps a curious but unsuccessful experiment most likely to invade fests and homevid.

Nimble blond Laura (Florencia Colucci) and her dad (Abel Tripaldi) arrive at a country house to fix it up for resale. Not a good idea. When pop expires, Laura slams doors, runs up stairs and investigates telling artifacts (spooky photos!) as she flees unseen pursuers. Trying every way possible to set up the frights, newbie Fernandez pulls only a few good ones, especially with the help of Polaroid flashes. Lensing with Canon EOS 5D is rugged but solid. Sound problems during screening made the house less silent than needed.

The Silent House

Uruguay

Production

A Tokio Films production, in association with Elle Driver. (International sales: Elle Driver, Paris.) Produced by Gustavo Rojo. Executive producer, Rojo. Directed, edited by Gustavo Hernandez. Screenplay, Oscar Estevez, from an idea by Hernandez, Rojo.

Crew

Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Pedro Luque; music, Hernan Gonzalez; production designer, Federico Capra; costume designers, Carolina Dure, Natalia Dure. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors' Fortnight), May 16, 2010. Running time: 78 MIN.

With

Florencia Colucci, Abel Tripaldi, Gustavo Alonso, Maria Salazar.

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