Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Silent House / La Casa Muda

My love of Spanish Horror is growing with my love of Spanish film so whenever the chance to watch The Silent House on dvd arose it wasn’t an opportunity I was ever going to turn down.

PLOT:  Laura (Florencia Colucci) and her father Wilson (Gustavo Alonso) spend the evening in the house of Nestor (Able Tripaldi), an old family friend, with the intention of tidying it up for sale the following day.  During the night Laura hears strange noises and upon investigation discovers that her father has been killed.  Laura is haunted by the ghost of a young child throughout the night until dawn arrives and brings back Nestor.  There are jumps.  There are slamming doors.  There are several creepy moments with a Polaroid camera.  There is a ridiculous twist that renders the entire film completely pointless.  END PLOT

The first two acts of The Silent House are very good although they add nothing new to the genre – all the jumps and scares are standard.  The Polaroid camera is put to good use but it is nothing we haven’t see a million times before.

Once the third act comes the twist is revealed and throws the film off to the point that Laura’s running around the house in order to find her father doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.   From the pictures on the wall to the final scene nothing in the third act worked.  

The film is clearly made on a shoestring budget and is very basic but the one thing that spoils it is the hand-held camera.  It’s easy but also obvious to compare the hand-held feel to the [REC] series – this concept is used to great effect in [REC] as the characters are all aware that the camera is there and they speak into it and film events accordingly.

Laura is not aware of the camera so some of the hand-held moments do not work for example, in one scene Laura is running through a field and the camera becomes blurry and the sound is distorted.  This takes you completely out of the film as it makes you too aware of the camera and points out the cheapness of the film.

One thing that does work in The Silent House is the lighting which is essentially Laura’s torch.  We see only what the torch can light up and I did find myself straining at times to see past the light and into the shadows.  The torch lights the film realistically and was not a typical “magic candle” which can light up an entire room brighter than the sun.

Although the film claims to be made in one continuous shot it wasn’t as every time the camera panned to a dark spot you could tell that this was a cut.  There were times when a shot did last for a considerable period of time so credit should be given to the film-maker for at least giving it a good go.

The small cast are fine – large parts of the film are dialogue free however when it comes it isn’t going to trouble Shakespeare as it essentially Laura saying the phrase “I don’t know” over and over again.  Colucci is okay as the lead and sniffles and weeps her way through proceedings adequately. 

Up until the twist The Silent House is a very decent low budget horror made by a first time director.  It is definitely worth a look just to see how much can be achieved for $6000.  The Silent House gets a 7/10 – it is not the best Spanish film I have ever seen but in terms of film-making it does deserve high marks for effort.


  1. The spanish are leading the field in Horror these days. The unfortunate thing is that the huge budget US studios remake them and hence make the real money from someone else's film. I will see this all the same because I believe that throwing huge wads of cash at a movie makes it better. 6 grand you say?! That is peanuts!!
    Oh yes are you following your team in the Rugby World Cup?? I watched your men in emerald beat the Aussies two nights ago on telly! I may be a Kiwi but I've always admire the way they play the game there as I do France.

  2. Sounds interesting enough to give it a whirl, kind of just falls off the rails in the 3rd act, a shame. Still curious to see it!

  3. Brent-not sure if there is a typo in your post or not but I completely disagree that throwing huge amounts of money will make it better especially in this genre. If the actor can't sell a scare it wont work regardless of how many millions she is being paid.

    I don't watch any sport with a ball - motor sport is my area :-)

    Daniel-it is definitely worth a look. It falls completely off a cliff in the third act but from a first time writer/director it isn't bad. If anything I will be keeping an eye out for the directors future films

  4. It is a should know my cynisism by now!!

  5. This sounds good. I've always been into foreign films.

  6. Brent: I was wondering because it didn't sound like you at all lol ;-)

    D: It is definitely worth a look - for a first attempt it is a very strong début from the director