Recent trends in POV horror have seen audiences treated to some films which focus a lot more on atmosphere than anything else, and to put them into a separate genre of suspense rather than horror would probably be a forgivable thing to do. To their credit, some movies do it so well that for their normally short duration you are on the edge of your seat, quite often the payoff is not as good as the build-up, but as with everything in life, it would appear that you seldom get it all!
The Silent House, or La Casa Muda, as it is called in its native tongue, is a movie which in all honesty should be used as a textbook example for such movies. Fans appear divided in their opinions of the movies overall success, but for me if you want to see just how much atmosphere can be created with not a lot going on, then look no further – it doesn’t get any better than this.
Shot apparently in one continuous take, ‘The silent House’ is based on supposedly true events which occurred in Uruguay in the 1940s. Whilst it is not technically POV, i.e. not from the main character Laura’s point of view, the camera focusses only on her and follows her as she nervously moves throughout the house. The plot is quite flimsy sounding, and if it is depth of character and flamboyant set pieces then this is not the movie for you! We simply see Laura, and her father Wilson staying overnight in a remote cottage in preparation for some house renovation the next day. That night, just when everything seemed normal, the pair hears a faint noise which gets progressively louder. Wilson goes to investigate upstairs and simply put never comes down. ‘Real Fear in Real Time’ the tagline is not lying, we spend the night with Laura as she simply tries to survive.
The movie’s plot is possibly its weak link, as whilst basically the movie plays out like I have described above, it does throw in several plot twists not all of which are explained particularly well. This is certainly one of those movies which ask a lot more questions than it answers. That said it generates sufficient intrigue which holds your attention right up until the identity of the threat is revealed in the end.
The main focus of the movie is certainly on the suspense and this is where it shines. The camera angle is claustrophobic enough to really leave you feeling quite breathless but is not as restrictive as a simple handy cam. The house is dark, and again its narrow corridors and small rooms add to the effect that she truly is trapped. The renovation aspect certainly adds inters to the environment and of course allows the opportunity for the good old run down kiddies room upstairs complete with freaky toys and ominous sounding music box. All in all the perfect location for one pant shitting night.
With effective environments in place, all the movie has to deliver on is some well-placed set pieces, and again the movie doesn’t disappoint. Several new noises, corpses and the such like appear where they shouldn’t, freaky photographs and of course a good deal of cat and mouse action means that Laura is never without threat for very long, which means no atmosphere killing rest period for us; to say this movie grips you from start to finish would be an understatement.
Overall there is little more to say. It’s cheaply made, but it’s hard to care when this movie has you jumping left right and centre. Naturally its lights off, sound way up, but then after all those POV horrors you’ve undoubtedly been watching that’s standard fare these days. The journey on this one is certainly more rewarding than its destination, but that shouldn’t put you off checking this out before its remake is released in 2011.