Friday, 15 June 2012



Dir: Gustavo Hernández
Starring: Florencia Colucci, Abel Tripaldi, Gustavo Alonso, María Salaza

The recent remake of Silent House arrived to plenty of hype but hasn’t been reviewed too favourably. I got my eager mitts on the original Uruguayan film to see where this film came from.
How’s that for a change of pace — a foreign language, modern horror film? Just call me Mr Versatility!
One last thing, the film has received plenty of attention due to the fact that people claim it was shot in one continuous take. That’s some achievement, but does the rest of the film manage to impress as much? 

So we start off with subtitles and an onscreen message reading thatg the film is based on real events. I'm going to call bullshit right here. Oh and for those of you who saw the word subtitles and tutted, best give up now. The dialogue in this film is Spanish, so you have to read AND watch at the same time. If you're one of those 'I watch films and read books, I don't combine that shit, bro' types, click off and read one of my other ace reviews. Or wait until next week. I'll be doing Hellraiser next, that'll sort you right out.
Anyway, the actual film starts and we have a girl (later revealed to be called Laura) standing in long grass in a field. Don't worry, the film gets scarier.
She walks through the long grass owards an older man. Even if it wasn't for the subtitles earlier, these two look SO foreign. I'm amazed they aren't smoking. Oh wait, I think he is. Foreigners have fucking cast iron cancer proof lungs or something.
Anyway they continue to trek through the long grass, up a hill and through some trees, then through a fence. The camera tracks them the whole way and I am already impressed by that shot. Seriously impressive.
Unlike this hike, which judging by Laura's face is duller than an intimate time with Tulisa. Allegedly.
As they walk we get some jingly atmospheric piano. This is A GOOD THING.
When they get through the trees we see an old farmhouse. This place is RAMSHACKLE. For those who don't know, that word means a bit untidy and neglected, not a prop used in S and M.
Laura and the older dude sit down to wait for 'him'. The older gent turns out to be Laura's dad and is called Wilson.
Not Carlos or Raul or Pedro? Wilson? Are you fucking sure?????
Anyway after a wee while, Laura goes for an explore after her dad says they'll start to clear the place from the back and work their way forward. The doors are locked so she walks around the outside of the place. The ramshackle first impression is not eased at all by the exploration. As she strolls around we see the windows are all boarded up. A more cynical mind would think we're being shown this to explain that it would be difficult to escape from this house should SHIT GO DOWN. But what are the odds of that, eh?
After Wilson cheaply makes us all jump by sneaking up on Laura (Fuck you, WIlson! I hope you end up brutally mutilated later in this film!) a car horn sounds and father and daughter stroll back to the front of the house. Here's another guy, Nestor (that's MORE bloody like it!). We find out this mucky old place is his, he rarely visits it anymore and is now planning on selling it but wants to get it cleaned out and in decent shape before putting it on the market. Sound business strategy Nestor, my man.
Wilson and Laura have been recruited for this purpose. He gives Wilson the keys, wishes them both good luck and nips off to get more supplies. So he's late AND he hasn't got all the shit they need? Nestor is not the most organised dude.
And inside the house we go. Hang on, it was just pitch black for a second. Are we sure there wasn't a cut there? HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM...
Laura grabs a lamp and walks about the interior of the house, lighting candles and looking at all the junk in the room.
My god, Nestor is Leatherface or something, his house is full of all the creepiest junk known to man. It's like the cellar in Cabin in the Woods!!!!
Oh look, there's a phone there! That shit better get used when it all hits the fan later or I'm writing BOLLOCKS in the largest font available on this blog.
Wilson returnsto the living room and turns on a little radio. PARTAY!
Laura wanders off (via more creepy junk) and discovers the bathroom. SHE STARTS TO STRIP!
Oh she just took her vest off to put it back on again. Must be Uruguayan thing.
She walks back to the living room and Party Animal Wilson is asleep on a chair with a blanket.
Laura decides to do likewise and turns off the radio and snuggles up under a blanket.
Which is when we hear the thump upstairs. Shit.
She panics a bit and wakes her dad. He gives her a look which says 'Shut it, you loopy bint', then goes back to sleep.
Noise again. The nicely sustained atmosphere of creepy has just been ratcheted up a couple of notches here.
This time upon being woken, Wilson agrees to go have a look, provided Laura goes to sleep while he does. Is he mental? It's a creepy rural hellhouse and there are weird noises coming from upstairs!!!! NOBODY could sleep there!
We hear Wilson walk up the stairs, the camera tracing his footsteps across the ceiling... until he suddenly cries out and we hear the thumps of a body hitting the floor.
Laura completely panics and starts running around trying windows and doors. They're locked.
She starts rummaging about for the keys, and as she alternates between searching for keys and an exit, we get another moment of darkness. This film lied about the one take thing, didn't it?
While this is going on, we spot a figure behind her. BRRRRRRRRRRRRR!
Finally Laura goes to their bag of cleaning stuff and supplies... and pulls out a big, cruel sickle!!! A SICKLE!!!
Do NOT fuck with Uruguayan cleaners, they are TOOLED UP!
Finally she goes to the door to the stairs, unlocks it, picks up her lamp.. and Wilson tumbles out of the darkness onto her.
AAAAAAAAAAAARGH! That was one last pants-filling jump-scare, Wilson, you old dog.
Laura's grief as she tends to her fallen father here is touching. That's an excellent acting job by Florencia Colucci.
In time Laura realises she needs to get out of the house before whatever got her dad gets her. She rummages through his pockets for the missing keys. He doesn't have them. She should have invested in one of those keyrings where you whistle and it plays a little alert. Hindsight, eh?
So the keys aren't on her dad or in the room. As she looks for them again, she sees the phone! And tries it!!!!! Needless to say, it doesn't work.
BOLLO... oh, wait, that's ok.
Laura explores some more, looking for another way out. We see a little more of the house now. It is equally creepy here. The one thing it's difficult to do iwith a synopsis is explain how suspenseful this film has become. The tension building execution here is superb.
Jesus christ, I nearly filled my boxers then. Needless to say, Laura just about has a fit and goes running back to the living room... where her father's body is now back in his chair.
And then music starts to play from upstairs.
For some reason Laura chooses to block the exit of the house with a heavy dresser/cupboard (um, okaaaaaaaaaaaaay), then steels herself.
At this point EVERYBODY watching this film shouts 'NO!' at the telly.
However Laura is Uruguayan and does not understand our silly English 'No' and proceeds up the stairs with her lamp and cleaning sickle. She heads into one of the rooms where furniture is piled higgledy-piggledy and sees the radio. The camera here does something BRILLIANT and pans just enough to show Laura's reflection in one of the mirrors on the furniture as she switches off the radio. Having done this, Laura startes to explore the room. She sees an old polaroid camera on the shelf... right before she hears another scary noise. OH SHIT. The lamp gets switched off and Laura scrambles under a stray cupboard into a hidey hole. From beside her in this little nook we see a pair of feet walk into the room. Whoever this mystery assailant is, they have a weapon.
Yeah, the tension is pretty fucking high round about now.
Finally the unknown scary person leaves. Laura scuttles out from the hiding place... AND FINDS THE KEYS!
Laura immediately makes a break for it, sprinting down the stairs, unlocking the door and dashing out into the woods. She is in a sheer panic, stumbling over stumps and brambles, splashing through a stream... and the whole time the camera man is keeping up! Wow, that's seriously impressive, even with the possible cuts earlier. Finally she reaches a road. The camera pans around her... and we see a glowing little girl!
While we're reeling from that we get a sudden loud car horn as Nestor nearly hits Laura and a significant increase in the number of skidmarks in our undergarments.
Laura is damn relieved to see Nestor and dives into his car. Oh sweet relief... until he says he's going back to the house to investigate.
Nestor, seriously, you're a fucking mong. Phone the police from somewhere far, far away.
So they drive back, despite Laura's protests and then, in a moment of jawdropping stupidity even by Nestor's standards, he says he's going to take Laura back into the house because it's not safe out here'. Yeah, best get her back into Murder Manor then.
Back inside and things have now moved. The furniture has shifted and once again, there is no sign of Wilson's body.
Best go back upstairs then. At this point I feel a need to share the fact that everytime I have written Uruguay tonight I have heard the voice of Homer Simpson in my head ('Heheheh, U R GAY')
Anyway as we head back to Nestor's nest, he and Laura split up. WHA.....? Needless to say, we soon hear a scream and thump from Nestor's direction. Laura heads in that direction (I'm amazed she's able to ove considering how heavy her pants must be with all the shit she's filled them with) and discovers a weird creepy doll. Because this place wasn't weird or creepy enough yet. We head back into the upstairs room from earlier and suddenly the door is slammed shut from the otherside. BRILLIANT jump-scare, made all the scarier by the fact that Laura drops her lamp in shock. It's pitch black again. Sigh, no cuts, really?Luckily Laura isn't stuck in this darkness though, she has the polaroid camera from earlier and its flash. This means she sits in the dark whimpering, before occasionally lighting up the scene for a second with the flash, before charging the camera again for the next shot.
Seriously. I knew what was coming. You know what's coming. We all know what's coming... but when it does it is still terrifying.
In fact, if I wasn't a rock-hard, supercool, warrior god with icewater in my veins I might have made a silly 'Woooooa-oooh-oooooaaaaah!' noise at the screen.
But fortunately I didn't. Oh no.
After this heart-attack inducing little moment, Laura flees the room. And this is when she starts to make some really unsettling discoveries...
I won't spoil this any further here (but do below, so be careful) but the film soon reaches its chilling conclusion. However it does it via a ludicrous twist ending that EVERYBODY knows. This is a real shame, because up until the last 10 minutes or so, the tension and suspense cultivatred through the slowly building dread in the film are incredible. Even the climactic scenes are excellent and genuinely unsettlling, it's just the route we take to get to them that causes the problem. The achievement from a technical standpoint (telling the story in realtime over the length of the film) is astounding. The acting is never less than decent. The look and feel of the film are fantastic. But ffs, way to piss all over your own bonfire with that twist, guys.
The house may be silent, but when the film's over and the audience have thought about it a little, there won't be any silence over the end credits, just a resounding chorus of 'Huh?'s.

HEY, I KNOW YOU: Although in this case, I REALLY don't. I’m afraid my knowledge of Uruguayan cinema is pretty slim (what a philistine).
I can tell you that the cast all perform admirably though.

EVIL ON TWO LEGS: Okay, I will obviously get into the realm of major spoilers here. If you don’t want to ruin the film, you should probably skim on to the next section. That’s body count, which is also kind of spoilery, but well, what do you expect, you know how these work...
Still here? Fair enough.
The film is built around the mysterious assailants harming the people around Laura and the unsettling visions she encounters throughout. Most prominent among these visions is a creepy ghostly girl.

Now the twist in this story is all too obvious, even if the details are a little wonky.
The killer is, of course, Laura. We are led to believe that Nestor and Wilson have both contributed to Laura losing her daughter (whether aborted or murdered after she was born). We are also led to believe that Nestor was the father, although it is implied that he and WIlson would regularly abuse young girls (or possibly just hook up with single women). Laura herself could well have been a victim. Whatever finally led to her breakdown, the fact is Laura is fucking nuts and offed the pair of them, cutting out their tongues as she did.

As she’s mental, EVERYTHING depicted in the film is suspect, so the case could be something as simple as Nestor was with Laura and he and WIlson persuaded her to give her daughter up for adoption and now everybody is suffering, ranging through infanticide theories all the way up to Nestor and WIlson abduct and regularly abuse young girls — including Laura — and killed her daughter. Either way, the film does not end happily...


CREATIVE CARNAGE: A first person victim point of view from somebody having their tongue hacked off with a sickle!!!!

DIALOL: Now, my spanish really isn't so hot, so these are from the subtitles, ok...
WILSON: 'It's so neglected here.'
NESTOR: 'I always come back - memories, you know what I mean?'
LAURA: 'I don't want to go there. DON'T GO!'
NESTOR: 'Why did you go up?'
LAURA: 'What did they do to you?'
LAURA: 'Do you miss her? Do you love me?'

10 WORD WRAP UP: Impressive real time feat, shame about the silly twist ending
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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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