Ah, American remakes of foreign horror films, we meet again. But it’s not as Asian horror movie we’re ripping off this time around, it is an Uruguayan film called La Casa Muda or “The Mute (or muted) House” which is weird, because this movie isn’t what I would call loved. Or popular. But someone in Hollywood must have seen something in the script or the set up cause they made a remake with an Olsen. No, not one of the twins, their little sister. Did you know they had one of those? Because apparently this is going to be one of her last works before she launches her fashion careers.
Why am I harping on this so much? Because the entire movie is basically about her hearing noises and hiding under tables until the grand finale, carrying the picture all by herself. But does it work better here than it did back in the original film? Does it work at all? Let’s not hesitate, and check out The Silent House.
The Silent House stars not-twin Emily Olsen as Sarah, a young woman cleaning out an old summer home with her father and uncle. However, with boarded up windows, no lights, and lots of winding turns and stairway, it isn’t long before she starts hearing bumps in the night and start shit starts to occur. Sarah spends the remainder of the movie hiding away from shadowy, apparently murderous figures around the house before the discovering the awful truth…
…which is that her father and her uncle molesting her throughout most of her early childhood. There’s really no way you could have guessed or pieced it together til the very end, so I’m not counting this as a spoiler, more rather just how it ends. There are lots and lots of ways this could have ended but for whatever reason, they chose to keep this angle (kind of) from the original film, even though it looked like they were going to go for a mold-causes-psychotic-hallucinations for a while.
We follow Sarah as she runs from room to room, hiding behind doors and under tables from what amounts to her own crazy running wild. But I will give it to Emily Olsen – she does a pretty great job of freaking out appropriately and crying realistically. I mean, if there was any one factor is this movie that felt real, it was definitely her acting. After all, her panicky running around and tears felt authentic, and when she escapes and then gets dragged back to the house, you do feel bad for her. She was probably the only reason I could stand this movie, and was easily the most enjoyable part.
The other actors are fine, you just don’t see the three of them enough to actually make note of it. The cinematography is pretty bad. The camera acts like its a found-footage film, except it totally isn’t one. No camera should move so sporadically behind a running person, that you can’t tell what direction she’s even running in. Sometimes there are great shots, but more often than not, it’s just wild jerks and poor stability. But worse than anything else, this movie is bland, bland, blandly bland bland. I have nothing really to say about it because it is literally just a girl, a dark empty house, and a camera.
Now, before the end of this review, I’d like to talk a little about why this movie makes no damn sense, from it’s symbolism, direction, and plot. First one, once everything start going to Hell in a hand basket, we get lots of symbolism involved to “give us clues” about what’s going on. The little girl bathing in a bath tub of beer bottles obviously means they would intoxicate her intentionally, and the blood on the bed…well that’s self-explanatory, but not all of it works. Like, blood in the urinal for example – what is that supposed to mean? And then all the mold on walls; it could show the dirty, disgusting conditions of the house, the mental illness Sarah has, or it was just to confuse us further. One of the “men” who is meant to represent her father or uncle is covered in paint, some sort of blue or green, which I still don’t understand. Then comes the question of Olivia, a supposed old friend of Sarah’s but she’s really just a facet of Sarah’s subconscious that pushes her to view the truth. Is Olivia real? Was she ever real? Was she another girl who was part of this? If so, is she dead? Did she live in the basement? How was she involved? Maybe she was an imaginary friend? ANSWERS MOVIE. ANSWERS!!!!
Also, the plot makes no sense. Sarah spends all the time running away from no one, yes, BUT she somehow manages to assault, then discover, then remove her father’s body AND YET for the most part she only remembers the discovery. Wouldn’t it take quite a feat of strength to drag a full-sized male body down the stairs? And he was bleeding pretty badly – would she have been more covered in blood? And how does she go through the motions without any camera shifts?
The uncle also gets knocked out by Sarah just minutes before she figures it all out. However, the uncle claims to be sorry, and she lets him go free, so the majority of the rage is geared at her (very deserving) father, which makes me question what was the uncle’s role exactly – we never actually know. I also thought it was an interesting shout out to the absent mother, when Sarah says “Shh…you can’t wake up Mommy.” It is true that her mother was not around, and that probably had no knowledge of the events that occurred in Sarah’s childhood, though she may or may not be dead now. But if this was their summer home, where was she then? Typically victims that young instinctually blame the guardian figure, i.e. a parent who is supposed to protect them, and yet Sarah has no resentment whatsoever towards her mother, rather it is all direct at her father and uncle.
And why DON’T we see more of her family if this was a family home and they make it clear her cousins were here too. Were they abused? Again – the ending is vague and there’s little we can extrapolate from the information given and her just leaving at the end seems…stupid. Where is she going so calmly? She just killed a man! And why doesn’t she get the cops involved in the first place rather than getting back in the car? So many questions…
Overall, The Silent House is a thriller that forgot it needed to be scary to be interesting. Without any real horror payoffs after all the buildup, the movie is just a poorly shot film following a woman freaking out about sounds, sights, and people who aren’t even there, which is pretty boring. While it is a half-decent effort, that falls flatter than weeks-old-soda and even going in knowing it wasn’t going to be very much, I was still disappointed there. They had a strong actress and a lot of potential – just another reason why remakes (especially those with bad scripts) shouldn’t happen.