Silent House (Blu-ray) (2011)

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Released 19-Dec-2012

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Animation
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 85:11
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Chris Kentis
Laura Lau
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Elizabeth Olsen
Adam Trese
Eric Sheffer Stevens
Julia Taylor Ross
Adam Barnett
Haley Murphy
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Nathan Larson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (1920Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

   

The silence will kill you.

 

    Silent House directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau have tried something unusual in attempting the "long take" presentation in film making as used by luminaries such as Hitchcock and Scorsese. As a gimmick this might have worked – even though the "one take" was actually a number of takes cleverly edited together. Certainly the film itself is unremarkable and would not be worth a second look otherwise. Adapted from a 2010 Uruguayan film La Casa Muda, Silent House tries to be clever and edgy, but is really only saved from being a total dud by the surprisingly good performance of our heroine Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen – yes one of the Olsen family) as we witness her decent into terror..

    Sarah with her father John (Adam Trese) and Uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens) have gone to their dilapidated old lake house to prepare it for sale. The house is dark and gloomy with boarded up windows and faulty electrics. It's a classic haunted house in other words. Peter seems a tad too fond of niece Sarah to be comfortable, and there is also an apparent tension between the two brothers as they decide what needs to be done to the house. They find a significant problem with dampness and mould which Peter confirms with a sledgehammer to the wall. Peter decides to return to town to get supplies and also enquire about an electrician leaving Sarah and John alone in the house. Shortly afterwards a young woman knocks on the door and introduces herself as former childhood friend Sophia (Julia Taylor Ross). Sarah doesn't remember her however the two talk about the house and their past with a promise to catch up later to reminisce properly. Sarah admits that there are holes in her memory, and doesn't seem too disappointed when Sophia leaves.

    At this point events in the house start to deteriorate with strange noises making the pair edgy. John acts suspiciously in hastily dismissing some Polaroid pictures that Sarah notices lying on a bed. The pair separate with Sarah rummaging through her old belongings when she hears a loud banging on the walls next to her room. Starting to panic she calls for her father who does not answer, and then becomes aware of an intruder in the house. With the house doors locked, and the keys missing, Sarah is imprisoned however an escape route might be possible via the basement. As her fate and that of her father John lies in the balance, it remains to be seen whether Uncle Peter can return in time to save them. Apart from this there are still questions about the unremembered secrets embedded in the house, and whether the mysterious Sophia has an input into unfolding events?

    The plot twist in the final act is heralded pretty early in the movie so there was no surprise when the secrets are revealed. What is more speculative however is how much of the unfolding events are real, and how much is imagined in Sarah's tormented mind. Fortunately Olsen acts well enough to carry off the role and certainly holds the movie together. Her slow-burn into apparent madness is handled really well, but overall Silent House offers nothing new or original to the horror movie genre. Then again - very few horror movies have been memorable in recent years, so Silent House is not unique from that respect. .

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video is presented in MPEG-4 AVC high definition 1080p 1.85:1 widescreen. As yet another one of those shaky-cam type presentations using domestic level cameras the actual video quality is variable and at times questionable. Sometimes the detail is clear and precise – other times the shadows and colours (what little there is) blend together into a muddy fudge. The blacks are variable with banding evident at times which further emphasised the lack of depth. Shadow areas are therefore not well defined with detail completely lacking in the dimly lit scenes – and there were a lot of dimly lit scenes. Being a digitally shot "film" the overall image has a distinctive flatness which further detracts from the visual appeal. Cinematographer Igor Martinovic and the directors were obviously trying to create a gritty and washed out mood, and from that respect they succeed, however that technique has become so common that it is now clichéd and tiresome.

    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    A DTS Master Audio 5.1 audio track encoded at around 1,800 Kb/s is the default and is pretty successful in creating all the ambient sounds and noises required in a spooky house setting. There is no score as such, just an enveloping mix of sound effects such as knocks, and shuffles, and footsteps which are particularly effective, especially in the many scenes when you can't see the source of the noises. Being a largely empty house there is plenty of scope for echoes and dull thuds where even slight noises like a tap dripping becomes ominous. The LFE track is used constantly in providing bassy tones and is quite effective in heightening the tension. Dialogue is always easy to understand and is synchronised to the video.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

       

Menu

    Animated menu with audio.

 

 

 

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Silent House Blu-ray seems identical to the Region A offering apart from not including the audio commentary with co-directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau. It also has no alternative language options.

Summary

    Silent House is a very average horror flick that is lacking in originality and relies on the apparent "one-take" filming technique to make it different to countless similar movies. Apart from Olsen the acting performances are perfunctory at best, with neither male leads particularly convincing as the brothers with a dark secret. Technically the film sounds good, but the visuals are only adequate at best – even allowing for an apparent desire to create a gloomy atmosphere. In my opinion Silent House is good for a rental only.

    The video quality is adequate .

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are non existent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mike B (read my bio)
Friday, January 11, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
Amplificationdenon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp
SpeakersB&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub

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