has an average rating of 5.3 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 25gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
with commentary, DVD & digital copies
– 86 minutes
This uses 22.4GB for the movie out of 24.3GB total.
Street Date: July 24th, 2012
Overall Verdict – Worth A Rental At Best
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself is based on the 2010 Uruguayan film “The Silent House” that was written by Oscar Estévez and directed by Gustavo Rojo. This film serves as a remake of sorts with the screenplay adapted by Laura Lau who served as co-director along with Chris Kentis. These two are best known for producing, writing and directing the film “Open Water” from 2003.
The film tells the story of a young girl (likely in her twenties) named “Sarah” (played by Elizabeth Olsen) who is helping her father “John (played by Adam Trese) clean out their abandoned lake house. Joining them in helping clean the house out is her uncle “Peter” (played by Eric Sheffer Stevens). Her uncle Peter hasn’t seen her since she was very young and comments on how she’s grown up almost in a creepy perverted sense. There’s no electricity on in the lake house, the doors have all been padlocked from the inside and windows have been boarded up to prevent people from getting in. Those three facts will all play a very vital role here in the plot. Her father and uncle are inspecting how bad the house has become since being abandoned for so long when they smash open a wall with a sledge hammer to find mold. The father immediately gets out a Polaroid camera to take pictures of the damage for insurance purposes and whatnot. It’s during this when the camera flashes as he’s taking the photographs that we see Sarah have some unusual reaction to that. She’s obviously having some issues and had previously attributed it to just having a headache. Eventually a knock comes at the door and Sarah hesitantly answers. She finds it’s a girl her age by the name of “Sophia” (played by Julia Taylor Ross) that she grew up with while visiting the lake house. The girl asks how she’s been and if she’d like to hang out later. They make plans to hang out and Sophia leaves. After her talk with her childhood friend Sarah walks back into the dark and abandoned house.
While Sarah stays downstairs her father and uncle go off for a bit upstairs on their own to do some cleaning, packing, repairing or something of that regard. Eventually though the uncle comes storming back downstairs. It seems that her uncle and his brother (her father) have obviously had a disagreement about something and as a result the uncle decides to get his keys and leave. This leaves only Sarah and her father in the house. She remains downstairs and eventually hears some odd noises like bumps and footsteps. She’s pretty sure these didn’t come from her father and eventually yells out for him and tells him about the noises. He agrees to go investigate what the noises were and she tags along with him. They search the entire upstairs but find no one. Along the way her father finds some old polaroid pictures laying on a bed which he quickly picks up and hides from Sarah claiming that they’re nothing of interest. He takes her to what used to be her room and tells her to get to work on packing up and throwing away stuff. She does just that. While doing so she first comes across a locked red tin box that she can’t manage to open but eventually she stops throwing things away when she begins to again hear noises. She goes to investigate what was causing the noises after her father fails to answer her calling out for him. It’s quite obvious she’s absolutely terrified being alone in this house. Another startling noise happens while she’s looking for her father and she tries to make a run for the front door only to find that it’s locked and realizes that all the other doors are too as well as the windows boarded up. She’s trapped.
The sounds of footsteps, bottles being moved around and such echo throughout the house. She does some hiding during these points and is convinced someone else is in the house with her aside from her father. She eventually does manage to find her father and there’s really not much of a “spoiler” in telling you this, as it’s actually featured in the film’s trailer, but someone has injured her father. At first she figures him for dead until she sees him breathing. She searches her father and around his body for a key to get out; as she’s locked in the house with no way out to get her father help or get to safety. She fails to find any key on him though and is forced to be brave enough to search even further to find a way out of the house and get her father help. That’s really as far as I can go without actually dishing out any real “spoilers” in regard to the film’s plot.
“Silent House” is an interesting film in the sense that it tries to come across visually as being all one continuous shot. However, in actuality it was mostly continuous takes of around 10 minutes each that were cleverly edited together to give that illusion. As a film though, it’s really not that interesting and in all honesty fails to even really be that scary. Typical horror fans that will or have watched this might go in thinking they’re going to see something right up their alley so-to-speak but they’ll very likely be disappointed by how things are concluded and explained in the end. One of my biggest gripes here throughout the film was wondering how in the hell neither Sarah nor her father have a cellphone on them. For Christ sake it’s 2011 in the film and almost every person alive — including young kids — own and almost always carry a cellphone. You would think if you would be cleaning out an old abandoned house without power in the dark you’d want to have some type of way to contact the outside world if you were to become injured, have a medical problem or have some sort of physical protection on you such as a gun.
In fairness of this being considered a horror or thriller, sure, there are a couple moments in the film where it does come off a tad bit creepy but in actuality that translates to more puzzling in a confused disturbing sense than it does scary. I’d like to also point out that my dislike for the film has nothing to do with the star Elizabeth Olsen as she’s actually a very talented actress. Anyone who saw the film “Martha Marcy May Marlene” (also from 2011) will know that she can be a great actress if she’s in the right type of role and film. For those who don’t know, Elizabeth is the younger sister of the twins Mary-Kate Olsen & Ashley Olsen. Speaking of acting skills, the supporting cast here on the other hand are not very talented actors or actresses in my honest opinion. They don’t really help things along any. The worst part though is the major amount of plot holes and just poorly orchestrated direction from the two directors, one of which who actually wrote this screenplay. I’ve never seen the original film “The Silent House” that this is a remake of but I would certainly hope it wasn’t as much of a confusing mess as this. That being said I can only recommend this film for a rental at best.
In terms of what critics thought of this film it was a pretty mixed bag of sorts. If you look on Rotten Tomatoes you’ll see that it carries a poor 41% (out of 100%) on the “tomatometer” from critics’ reviews. Some critics actually managed to give this film a positive review but the majority of them felt the same way I did about it. The audience rating over there is even lower at 29% (out of 100%). Over at IMDb you’ll see the film has a slightly higher 5.3 (out of 10) rating and a MetaCritic score of 49 (out of 100). In terms of box office sales this ended up grossing 12 million dollars according to Box Office Mojo which actually is surprising. No clue how much it cost to make exactly but I’ve heard it was done on a pretty low budget. So, it did make some profits at the box office and I’m sure will here in its release to home video but my bet is that will likely come mostly from rentals.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-25 (25 gigabyte single layer Blu-ray Disc) in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. According to the technical specifications on IMDb this was shot digitally in Hi-Def on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera. That’s a consumer camera that retails for around $2,000 total. Not exactly a high end camera to shoot a film on. In fact, because of the choice to use only natural lighting from the lamps, candles and such there are some definite visual problems. One of the most bothersome visual issues here is this tendency to have these vertical lines across darker shots. Sure, this camera can shoot some impressive footage in the right lighting conditions and does capture a good amount of detail even in some darker conditions but it doesn’t make for the most visually pleasing Hi-Def experience. The black level is not 100% perfectly solid as it just doesn’t seem dark enough in shots that should be almost pitch black. The color palette is obviously subdued, very likely done in post-production on the footage, and the fleshtones come across somewhat accurate with the large amount of Elizabeth Olsen‘s cleavage shown throughout to serve as an example. There are a few occasions of digital noise being an issue as well. All and all this does have some nice detail in shots like close-ups and such but it also shows the flaws of being shot on a cheaper consumer digital camera as I mentioned with the vertical lines problem. All and all, this earns a somewhat decent “3.5 Star Rating” for overall video quality. It does the film justice, which I’m not sure is saying too much. One last thing, the fact they chose to shoot in 10 minute or so intervals probably has something to do with the fact you can only record up to 4 gigabytes per video on that camera.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. When I first saw the trailer for this film I was convinced this was going to have one awesome lossless 5.1 mix but then I saw the film. Yeah, pretty disappointing. For the first 20 minutes or so roughly you don’t really get anything but mostly dialogue delivered through the center channel. There’s a faint amount of the film’s original Score (music) getting play in the front left and right channels and tiny, tiny bit of presence in the rear channels but it’s very subtle. The same goes for sound effects and whatnot. As mentioned though when the noises in the house start to happen you’ll hear a decent amount of LFE (bass) presence. The score will intensify a small bit as the film progresses along like a train running off the rails as experienced by a person with a slight hearing problem. There’s a few (keyword: few) occasions where the score actually does to get a tad bit intense but it lasts for a short period and just doesn’t really do much in terms of a lossless 5.1 presentation. I just failed to be impressed very much by this film’s sound mix and how it translated over to DTS-HD 5.1 MA. It does manage to carry the film’s attempts at making you frightened by the loud noises and such but there’s just not enough of it to merit anything higher than a “3.5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality.
Bonus Materials on this release do not include video, just audio.
- BD-Live is included on this release which allows users on a “Profile 2.0” capable Blu-ray Disc player with Internet connectivity to access online content from the studio as well as make use of features such as pocketBLU which allows you to use your portable media device such as smartphone or tablet as a remote control.
- Feature Audio Commentary with Co-Director Chris Kentis and Screenwriter/Co-Director Laura Lau
- D-BOX motion code is included for those with the proper equipment to decode it.
- A DVD of the film in standard definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is included. This features the audio commentary just as the Blu-ray does.
- A Digital Copy of the film is included which can be redeemed online via the URL and code on a paper insert in the packaging.
- An UltraViolet digital copy of the film is also included which can be redeemed online via the URL and code on the paper insert in the packaging mentioned above.
Overall the bonus materials here are a major disappointment, much like the film itself proved to be to most. The only real supplemental material you get is an audio commentary by the two directors. Sure, you get some physical and digital bonus content in the form of a DVD, Digital Copy and UltraViolet digital copy of the film. Plus you get D-BOX motion code (for those who actually have the proper equipment to experience it) but that’s just not enough. This struggles to earn a “1 Star Rating” for bonus material.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.