HOUSE (director: Chris Kentis and Laura Lau;
Hernández' film La Casa Muda/The Silent House/Oscar Estevez;
Martinovic; music: Nathan Larson;
Olsen (Sarah), Adam Trese (John), Eric Sheffer Stevens
(Peter), Julia Taylor Ross (Sophia), Adam Barnett (Stalking Man), Haley Murphy
Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Laura Lau/Agnes Mentre; Open Road Films;
"Unpleasant viewing experience."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Husband and wife co-directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, sharing co-directing honors for the first time, (Chris Kentis gets solo credit for directing both the couple's two other films "Open Water" & "Grind"), direct an English-language remake of the Uruguayan scare film La Casa Muda (2010). The unsettling arthouse horror thriller, filmed in one long take, is unpleasant to watch because it is shot almost entirely in the unlit house on a handheld digital camera, making it difficult to see the screen, and also because its unpleasant narrative when drawn out to the light seems implausible.
At a secluded lake home, we
meet a tense teenager named Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen),
her bossy young father John (Adam Trese) and his
irritating wise guy younger brother Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens). The
trio have returned a few days ago to their abandoned
moldy family home to renovate it before putting it on
the market for sale. The gimmicky photography of the
entire film photographed in a single shot and in real
Hitchcock first did such a shot in 1948 with Rope) cannot cover-up the
unpleasant viewing experience.
The filming location of the
scary house is in NYC's suburb of New Rochelle.
Things get spooky when
Sarah's father is found unconscious on the floor after
investigating strange sounds in the house, at his
daughter's request. Sarah freaks out when home alone
in the dark and creepy stuff starts happening, like
possible ghosts and ongoing scary inexplicable noises.
The frightened Sarah flees the house that has no phone
service or electricity, and meets Peter returning from
an errand in town by car. Instead of going back to
town for help, Peter investigates using a battery-powered lantern and the shadowy figures
roaming around in the dark make themselves known and
refresh Sarah's repressed memory of the ugly events
she participated in as a child by showing her old
The film is resolved in an annoying contrived way by a twist ending, leaving the attentive viewer wondering if what seemingly went down was real or was it all in the unstable heroine's imagination.
This indie arthouse film can be appreciated only for its technical novelty. That it was made on such a low-budget and still looks like a professional job, is a compliment to the team filmmaker's craftsmanship. Otherwise, it leaves me speechless.
REVIEWED ON 3/27/2012 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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