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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Silent House

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Elizabeth Olsen stars in "Silent House."
Part horror flick, part psychodrama, "Silent House" (Open Road)—a low-budget remake of a similarly down-market Uruguayan film called "La Casa Muda"—ends up being an unsatisfying representative of both genres.

There's more style than substance here, and astute viewers are going to figure it all out at least 30 minutes before the ending.

Considering that the film's conceit is that it appears to be shot in a single 88-minute take, what we're left with is less than an hour's worth of modest thrills. They come, predominantly, from the pleasingly claustrophobic effect of a handheld camera prowling around a conveniently dark and boarded-up lake house.

The script by Laura Lau, who also shares directing credit with Christopher Kentis, adds a gritty subtext to the proceedings. While not dealt with explicitly, this element nonetheless renders the picture appropriate fare only for mature adults.

Elizabeth Olsen plays young Sarah, who is helping her father John (Adam Trese) and creepy Uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens) clean out and pack up their family's summer place in preparation for selling it.

As with all haunted houses, this one holds memories. But the question is—whose?

Uncle Peter's early leer at Sarah is the first clue, one that's about as subtle as the sledgehammer that later comes into play. And then there are the old Polaroid photos that keep being found.

Every door in the place creaks, and there's a mysterious visit from Sophia (Julia Taylor Ross), who claims to be Sarah's old childhood pal. Figure out who Sophia really is, of course, and you'll be holding the key to this cinematic fixer-upper.

The film contains references to incestuous sexual abuse, some mildly gory images, implied physical violence and fleeting rough and profane language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Martha: Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus were evidently close friends of Jesus. He came to their home simply as a welcomed guest, rather than as one celebrating the conversion of a sinner like Zacchaeus or one unceremoniously received by a suspicious Pharisee. The sisters feel free to call on Jesus at their brother’s death, even though a return to Judea at that time seems almost certain death. 
<p>No doubt Martha was an active sort of person. On one occasion (see Luke 10:38-42) she prepares the meal for Jesus and possibly his fellow guests and forthrightly states the obvious: All hands should pitch in to help with the dinner. </p><p>Yet, as biblical scholar Father John McKenzie points out, she need not be rated as an “unrecollected activist.” The evangelist is emphasizing what our Lord said on several occasions about the primacy of the spiritual: “...[D]o not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear…. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:25b, 33a); “One does not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4b); “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6a). </p><p>Martha’s great glory is her simple and strong statement of faith in Jesus after her brother’s death. “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27).</p> American Catholic Blog The commandments are a gift, not a curse. Sin is less about breaking the rules and more about breaking the Father’s heart.

 
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