Real time, re­ally dull

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film reviews -

LA CASA MUDA – a no-fi 2010 Uruguayan hor­ror – had a nifty enough sales pitch to war­rant a place at the Cannes Di­rec­tors’ Fort­night and get snapped up for an English-lan­guage re­make. The blurb says: “pre­sented in real time”, in one, ahem, “con­tin­u­ous 78-minute take”. The sea­soned genre viewer says: it wanted to be Rope but, cru­cially, was not di­rected by Al­fred Hitch­cock and thus fell apart half­way through.

These flaws have been pre­served and com­pounded by an all-amer­i­can cover ver­sion from the di­rec­tors of the hit shark at­tack flick, Open Water (2003).

Ten­sions soon mount when Sarah (El­iz­a­beth Olsen), her fa­ther (Adam Trese) and un­cle (Sheffer Stevens) meet up at a fam­ily hol­i­day cot­tage to clean up the old place be­fore it’s sold. Some­how, the fam­ily mem­bers are sep­a­rated just as the lights go down.

Ms Olsen, fresh from her trau­mas in Martha Marcy May Mar­lene, turns scream queen as she is as­sailed by an un­seen spec­tre and sup­pressed mem­o­ries. She’s rather bet­ter than some of her co-stars and far too good for the dwin­dling scares of acts two and three.

Film-mak­ers Lau and Ken­tis seem to lose their col­lec­tive mojo 20 min­utes in and we’re left watch­ing a mostly dark screen and lis­ten­ing to a great deal of ran­dom pant­ing and gasp­ing. Hark! Is that El­iz­a­beth Olsen or an asth­matic bea­gle? Never mind the ed­its and joins. The faked con­tin­u­ous take – ac­tu­ally shot in eight 10-minute seg­ments – would be a lot more im­pres­sive if we could see any­thing at all.

As with the Span­ish-lan­guage orig­i­nal, Silent House has a twist, al­beit a sign­posted one, but no plot; it has sus­pense, but nowhere to go. There’s an ad­di­tional prob­lem in the trans­la­tion: it’s a whole lot eas­ier to be­lieve in ghosts and su­per­nat­u­ral agents when a film is pre­sented in a lan­guage that’s syn­ony­mous with magic re­al­ism.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, movie pun­ters have loathed the murky re­sults: Silent House, fol­low­ing in the lowly foot­steps of The Devil In­side, is only the sec­ond picture of 2012 to re­ceive an “F” grade from Cine­mas­core exit polls.

Ouch.

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