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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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Joachim and Anne: In the Scriptures, Matthew and Luke furnish a legal family history of Jesus, tracing ancestry to show that Jesus is the culmination of great promises. Not only is his mother’s family neglected, we also know nothing factual about them except that they existed. Even the names <i>Joachim</i> and <i>Anne</i> come from a legendary source written more than a century after Jesus died. 
<p>The heroism and holiness of these people, however, is inferred from the whole family atmosphere around Mary in the Scriptures. Whether we rely on the legends about Mary’s childhood or make guesses from the information in the Bible, we see in her a fulfillment of many generations of prayerful persons, herself steeped in the religious traditions of her people. </p><p>The strong character of Mary in making decisions, her continuous practice of prayer, her devotion to the laws of her faith, her steadiness at moments of crisis, and her devotion to her relatives—all indicate a close-knit, loving family that looked forward to the next generation even while retaining the best of the past. </p><p>Joachim and Anne—whether these are their real names or not—represent that entire quiet series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remain obscure.</p> American Catholic Blog My hope is that my children reach beyond me in character. I don’t want to be their moral ceiling. That makes me responsible to guide and discipline them in directions I don’t always follow. And above all, to show them mercy for their human frailty, as I ask them to show me that same mercy for mine.

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