the silent house – uruguay (2010)
I had never actually heard of this film before, but wasbrowsing the World Cinema section in CEX in Walthamstow a couple of weeks ago and it caught my eye – and for a couple of quid, you can’t really complain!
This is a rather claustrophobic horror story (but only a 15 rating, so not particularly gruesome – more of a thriller than a horror really) set in one location, a small, isolated, ramshackle cottage and the immediate grounds that it nestles in.
(Probably) teenager Laura and her father (Wilson) have been tasked with tidying up the cottage and garden to get it ready for sale. The film begins early evening, following them as they walk across the firld to meet the owner (Nestor) who is is Wilson’s friend. He lets them in, shows them a couple of old chairs they can sleep in for the night and promises to bring them back some food. He also warns them not to go upstairs as the floor is unstable and he doesn’t want them to have an accident.
The film has barely any colour, grim & grainy and shot on a ‘home-movie’ style handheld, almost shadowing Laura. You feel like you’re permanently sitting on her shoulder! And she goes around the house with a lamp or torch most of the time, so there is a ring of darkness just to the edge of the shot.
The main reason that this film is unique though is because it appears to have been filmed all in one continuous take, making the film in real time. There are a couple of moments where I thought “Could that have been edited?” but they definitely site it as a one-take film, which is pretty amazing really – and worth watching even just to see how they did it! It certainly gives this a completely different feel to your usual horror film.
It was quite engrossing, but as I said, really rather claustrophobic. I must admit, i enjoyed it quite a bit, BUT it did have times where nothing much seemed to be happening. There was a lot of time spent with Laura holding up her gas lamp, just looking at various pictures and bric-a-brac in rooms. I guess this is because of the ‘real time’ and one take aspect of it – they probably needed time to prepare for the more ‘action’ scenes.
I think the one thing that disappointed me though was the ending, I’m not exactly a thickie, but I really didn’t understand it. I understood what it was trying to say, and what had come before, but how it all actually worked within the confines of the film slightly alluded me.
If anyone nearby wants to borrow the DVD though, it’s worth a look and you’re more than welcome
My rating 6.5/10