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Silent House

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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Francis Borgia: Today's saint grew up in an important family in 16th-century Spain, serving in the imperial court and quickly advancing in his career. But a series of events—including the death of his beloved wife—made Francis Borgia rethink his priorities. He gave up public life, gave away his possessions and joined the new and little-known Society of Jesus. 
<p>Religious life proved to be the right choice. He felt drawn to spend time in seclusion and prayer, but his administrative talents also made him a natural for other tasks. He helped in the establishment of what is now the Gregorian University in Rome. Not long after his ordination he served as political and spiritual adviser to the emperor. In Spain, he founded a dozen colleges. </p><p>At 55, Francis was elected head of the Jesuits. He focused on the growth of the Society of Jesus, the spiritual preparation of its new members and spreading the faith in many parts of Europe. He was responsible for the founding of Jesuit missions in Florida, Mexico and Peru. </p><p>Francis Borgia is often regarded as the second founder of the Jesuits. He died in 1572 and was canonized 100 years later.</p> American Catholic Blog Dare to love and to be a real friend. The love you give and receive is a reality that will lead you closer and closer to God as well as to those whom God has given you to love. —Henri J.M. Nouwen

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