'The Silent House' (aka 'La Casa Muda') Movie Review


The problem with most "gimmick" horror flicks is that if you don't buy the gimmick, you generally dislike the whole package. Those who have a problem with the "shaky-cam found footage" hook probably don't like The Blair Witch Project, but they'd also be missing out on cool movies like [REC] and Cloverfield. If you're not a big fan of the "slow burn" horror approach, then you probably don't have much patience for the myriad J-horror films, their countless sequels, and their endless remakes. (Sure, some of those movies are actually pretty solid, but good luck shuffling through all the lesser fare to find it.)

So clearly we're talking about a new horror film with a potentially fun gimmick up its sleeve: the scrappy and low-key Uruguay import The Silent House (aka La Casa Muda) asserts itself as an "all in one take" movie experience, and allow me to explain that in really technical film critic terms ... nobody ever said "cut." Apparently the entire 80-some minute terror tale was orchestrated (and pretty darn well) and then shot all in one run-through. Alfred Hitchcock did it with Rope; the crazy museum piece Russian Ark did it with .... probably a few seamless cuts; and even in films that are edited together in normal fashion, there's just nothing like a nice long "one-shot" to indicate that you're working with some filmmakers with some patience. Which brings us back to The Silent House, a rather creepy horror flick that, yes, does require some patience.

The story is a simple one: a father and daughter are hired to clean out a huge, isolated house that's just about to go on the market. The dad seems like a perfectly normal blue-collar Joe, and tough enough to handle any normal threat, and his teenage daughter is a quiet but hard-working young gal. The owner of the estate gives the duo (as well as the audience) just enough exposition to make the setting a little bit creepier, and before we know it ... it's bump-in-the-night time. Poor young Laura (Florencia Colucci) is left to wander through this bleak mansion alone, wondering how her aggravated father got lost in the night, with lots of weird noises and misshapen shadows littering the empty hallways.

Not a whole lot happens in La Casa Muda, frankly, but that's just part of the slow-burn appeal of horror movies like this one. Whether or not the flick actually was shot all in one take is sort of beside the point; to me it felt like a quick, fluid, scary tale that makes up for in quiet chills what it lacks in slam-bang craziness. And hey, there's already an American remake shot, finished, and ready for release (it played Sundance; I hear it's pretty good), so why not be one of those cool kids who "discovered" [REC], like, years before Quarantine came out. There's little here that the old-school horror fiends haven't seen before, but on the couch with the lights down low, this one really works.