The found footage horror genre isn’t old by any stretch – we can carbon date it all the way back to 1999’s “The Blair Witch Project.”
We’ve still seen enough of these low-fi features to need a little jolt from the experience.
“Silent House,” out this week on Blu-ray and DVD, isn’t technically a found footage thriller. But the simple premise – the camera tracks our heroine without edits – makes it feel like a fresh spin on the format.
The results, alas, aren’t so invigorating. Star Elizabeth Olsen brings more acting chops to the affair than most horror movie starlets are allowed, and the early sequences establish a creepy mood with very little theatrical tics.
It’s the payoff where the film struggles, as the head-scratching moments accumulate before our eyes.
Olsen stars as a young woman planning to help her father (Adam Trese) renovate an old home. The project looks straight forward if not dull, with only the building’s lack of electricity offering a real challenge. When her father goes to investigate something in the house and doesn’t return right away, Olsen’s character starts to get suspicious.
We follow Olsen’s character up, down and all around the house, but when the clues start lining up as to why this house harbors a secret, the answers start to disappoint.
The film’s Blu-ray extras are limited to a commentary track by co-director Chris Kentis and screenwriter/co-director Laura Lau. The duo share some of the camera snafus that arose with the single-take shooting concept, but they also come clean on that presentation gimmick.
“The film for the record is made up of several … long takes strung together,” Kentis admits. Movie buffs may remember how Alfred Hitchcock navigated around technical limitations while making his “single take” feature “Rope.” The film’s source material also took a shortcut or two along the way, apparently.
“Silent House” is based on the Uruguayan thriller “The Silent House,” which also clung to the notion of the single take.
“In the original … they go to black … they cut. We didn’t want to do that,” Lau says in a retroactive spoiler alert moment.