My favorite cinematic technique has to be the long take. Godard does it beautifully in Breathless, and the opening scene of Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil made me want to make movies. My love for the long take is probably due to the fact that my background is in live theatre, which is, in fact, one continuous long take. The idea of a horror film that is shot in one long take was fascinating for me. How could an entire film be done in one take?! Turns out, it wasn’t, and one, fake 86-minute take can get pretty slow.
First, the film was probably shot in numerous 15-20 minute takes, and the editor just made it feel like one take. The screen goes black on multiple occasions, which is exactly where the director must have cut. That’s fine, but it did take me out of the film in the beginning because I was just searching for those moments of cutting. Not the film’s fault, per se, but my own curiosity got the best of me. That said, the movie absolutely feels like it was done in one take, which is quite a feat itself.
However, because it was done in this way, it limits what the filmmaker is able to do. No montages, no cut-ins, no quick angle changes; everything is done slowly and methodically. This works at points, but the middle of the film drags a ton, and made me wish for some editing to speed things up a bit.
The other problem – and my biggest complaint – with this movie is the out of sync story. Something about it just doesn’t flow. I’m not positive if this was a haunted house story, or a film about a mental disease. I believe it is a mix of both, but I wouldn’t bet money on that feeling. The story leaves a lot to be desired, and that is a major letdown as this was a film that needed to have a strong story.
The acting was great, though, and helps propel The Silent House up a notch. The main character handles everything that is going on in the film realistically, and emotionally, which is exactly what you want as the viewer.
The Silent House is an ambitious film, but with ambition, in this case, also comes some shortcomings. If the story had dragged less, and/or simply made more sense, this could’ve been a great movie. As it is, it’s just above average.
(I wonder how the American version differs…)