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Movie Review

Silent House

MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent content and terror.

Reviewed by: Steve Warburton

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Horror Thriller Drama Remake
1 hr. 25 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
March 9, 2012 (wide—2,124 theaters)
DVD: July 24, 2012
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Open Road Films

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

child molestation—child abuse—sexual

father daughter incest

I think I was sexually abused, but I’m not sure. What is sexual abuse, and what can I do to stop the trauma I am facing now? Answer

stories of sexual abuse

Does God feel our pain? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer


Featuring: Elizabeth Olsen … Sarah
Adam Trese … John
Eric Sheffer Stevens … Peter
Julia Taylor Ross … Sophia
Adam Barnett … Stalking Man
Haley Murphy … Little Girl
Director: Chris Kentis
Laura Lau
Producer: Elle Driver
Tazora Films
more »
Distributor: Open Road Films

“Experience 88 minutes of fear captured in real time”

I was apprehensive going in, because I was with a friend who gets freaked out at occultic stuff. The “Paranormal Activity” movies give her nightmares, as do those freaky Satanic exorcist films that made a brief resurgence a while ago. I wasn’t all that keen about taking her to “Silent House,” but I did anyway.

What I will say, without giving away anything, is that my friend didn’t have anything to worry about. I figured out the twist, but that’s probably because I’m a veteran film goer. My friend didn’t, and the twist came as something of a relief.

Is this movie offensive? Yes. And it’s also pretty real. We don’t live in heaven, folks, and people are nasty to each other. I doubt something like this could actually happen, but it seems a pretty fit metaphor for the psychological damage that adults can inflict on children.

Violence: Heavy—disturbing violent content and terror / Profanity: Heavy—OMG (4), “Jesus” (2), G-damn, “Oh G_d,” “Oh J_sus,” “f” word (1), and miscellaneous vulgar word / Sex/Nudity: Heavy—scene referencing past sexual child abuse, child abuse photos, frequent cleavage shown

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative—Warning: This review will contain spoilers, but I cannot think of how to express my feeling about this film without them. “Silent House” is a well made thriller. Effectively shot and very well acted by Elizabeth Olsen. There are some very good scares, suspense, and creepy moments.

On a technical level, there is a lot to be said, and I would be lying to call the film badly made. However, I cannot in good conscience recommend “Silent House.” The big twist at the end involves child molestation, which is an ugly subject. I don’t object to subjects like this being explored in a thoughtful film that analyzes the subjects, but “Silent House” is intending to be a fun popcorn jump out of your seat film and to put child molestation in what is supposed to be essentially just a scary thriller, I found deplorable.

There is a scene where it is implied that a little girl is being molested on a pool table, and, although it is shot with restraint and we don’t actually see anything, I still found it offensive that that scene is in the movie, at all. Another scene has a naked little girl (again we don’t see actual nudity) in a bathtub with bloody water, and I was disgusted and revolted.

For a large chunk of the movie, I was on the edge of my seat and thoroughly enjoying being scared, but, ultimately, the movie left me feeling unclean. I know “Silent House” is rated R, but I figured it was probably for a few extra f-words or violence that was a little bloodier than usual; I wasn’t expecting anything of this nature. The twist came as a surprise, but I cannot be sure if it is because of any filmmaking quality or because I never thought the filmmakers would go for something so sick and just plain wrong. You want a scary movie see “Insidious” or the first “Paranormal Activity.” Skip “Silent House.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Andrew, age 36 (USA)
Movie Critics

“…En route to the solution, [Directors] Kentis and Lau set themselves the challenge, with their single-shot technique, of generating suspense without the usual reliance on jump cuts and quick edits. They manage well enough initially, bog down in the middle, and then really strain toward the climax. Twin Hitchcocks they aren't. …”
—Rick Groen, The Globe and Mail

“…a seemingly unlimited number of doors located at right angles to other doors, so that in another world, this would be a good location for a slapstick farce. There's also an unreasonably high number of closet doors and doors opening into staircases. …My attention was held for the first act or so. Then any attempt at realism was abandoned…” [2/4]
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“…They give away where they're going with this too easily—what are the men not telling her?—and test the patience of the ‘Don't go in there’ crowd by making Sarah mostly passive and her actions seemingly illogical. And the movie's third act strips away its mysteries, much to its detriment. …”
—Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

“‘The silence will kill you!’ warn the posters for Silent House. That’s only if the boredom doesn’t get you first, though. …This stunt of a movie—done in real-time, in one single take—is woefully short on frights. …” [1/4]
—Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald

“…It's sort of like a creepy stage play that's both thump-in-the-dark scary and unintentionally funny. It can surprise us with its creative and slippery sleight of hand, right after numbing us with clumsily delivered dialogue and yet another hide-under-the-bed sequence. …”
—Bob Hoose, Plugged In

“…Demonstrating the limits of being too clever in a genre movie, the art-house chiller “Silent House” lets the tenseness of its first act trickle away. …” [1½/4]
—Kyle Smith, New York Post

“…Unfortunately, the end horrors are telegraphed (subtly, but still) too far in advance, thereby denuding the payoff of its rightful, righteous shriek. … I didn't jump once, but you might.” [2½/5]
—Marc Savlov, The Austin Chronicle

“…Soon, Sarah's long afternoon journeys into night, which soon renders her close to catatonic but, more seriously for the movie, makes most of what's come before seem unmotivated and/or unnecessary. Or perhaps silly is the right word for it. …”
—Todd McCarthy, Variety

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