“Silent House” follows a young woman named Sarah who helps her father John (Adam Trese) and uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens) fix up their old family home. The house is spooky from the start, with many dark hallways and dusty spaces, but it gets even weirder when a stranger shows up at the family’s doorstep. The visitor is a woman named Sophia (Julia Taylor Ross), who claims to have known Sarah since childhood, although our protagonist doesn’t seem to remember her.
As the film unfolds, “Silent House” transforms from an expertly constructed, claustrophobic home invasion story into a disturbing psychological thriller. At the end of its 88-minute runtime, the film went to some dark and triggering places, delivering a twist ending that was as emotionally heavy as it was surprising. The film takes the audience not only into the deepest crevices of this rickety old house, but also into the deepest crevices of Sarah’s mind, some of which are a secret even to her.
The film unfolds in real time, with what appears to be a continuous take. This artistic device allows “Silent House” to consistently create dread and suspense, but it also leaves room for a bit of narrative dead air as Sarah hyperventilates in the dark. Still, it’s a bold cinematic move reminiscent of a beloved film from the master of suspense himself. Alfred Hitchock’s 1948 drawing room murder film “Rope” used a similar technique, seamlessly editing extremely long takes together to give the appearance of a single continuous shot. Olsen confirmed that “Silent House” used the same method: it told investigators that making the film involved shooting 11-12 minute takes, many of which would have to be scrapped and restarted when small imperfections arose.