Friday, April 13, 2012

The Silent House (La Casa Muda)

When the American version came out a few months ago, I looked up to see what the movie was about.  It was then that I discovered that it was a remake of a Uruguayan movie that came out a couple years prior.  So I thought I would check it out

The plot: Laura and her father (Wilson) go to fix up an old house owned by Nestor (in the American version, I believe the Nestor character is Laura’s uncle, but I don’t think there was any such connection between the two here).  The house is out in the middle of the woods, and, since no one has lived there in a while, it is broken down and the lawn is overgrown.  Laura and Wilson are supposed to fix up the house to get it ready to sell.  They get in a little late, so they decide to sleep in the house and get started the following day. 
Before too long, Laura begins to hear noises, and it’s clear there is someone else in the house.  She sends Wilson upstairs to check out a noise.  She hears a thump, and he ends up at the bottom of the steps: his head bloodied, his hands tied, and his body lifeless.  So Laura finds herself needing to fend for herself in the house.  Throughout the movie, she begins to discover an even bigger mystery about the house.

 This movie was shot in entirely one take; or, at the very least, shot in such a way to resemble one take.  As far as getting me interested in the movie, it worked really well.  I was on edge from the minute the movie opened.  Since there weren’t any tight shots, I was always looking to see if there was any movement going on in the background.  It made for an incredibly stressful movie watching experience.  For the first half or so, anyway.

There were some pretty obnoxious parts in this movie.  There were a number of times where I screamed at the TV, “Look behind you!”  With the knowledge that there was someone else in the house (someone who had already beaten her father to death), she spent a ton of time investigating rooms in the house.  There were a couple of scenes where she went into a room and spent two minutes looking at objects in the room, with her back to the door the entire time.  It got a little old after a while, but there were still enough tense moments throughout the movie that kept me interested the entire time.

 Also, there were a lot of parts that ended up not making any sense when the ending was revealed.  I can’t say much else without giving the ending away, so I’ll venture into some spoiler territory here.

[SPOILER]  As it turns out, it was Laura the entire time.  Basically, Nestor got her pregnant (while her father watched), and he killed the baby.  So the killings inside the house were her revenge.  But the camera basically followed Laura the entire movie.  We didn’t see the murders at all.  When her father was killed upstairs, the camera was on Laura downstairs.  So did she have an accomplice?  Was the camera only showing us what she thought was true in her original personality, not showing what her other – more sinister – personality was doing?  If the entire movie is based around using the one-shot approach, it has to make sense.  And there were many times where this movie failed to make sense.  Since I didn’t know who the killer was while I was watching the movie, it didn’t seem strange to me.  But, when I was thinking about it after I finished watching, I started wondering about these things.  [END SPOILER] 

Overall, I liked it.  I didn’t love it, mainly because of the glaring inconsistencies and the ridiculous room-searching of Laura.  But it was still a well-done movie.  It kept me interested for the majority of the movie, and the one-shot style definitely drove that.  It could have been better.  As it stands, it’s still pretty good.
I hope to watch the American version at some point in the not-too-distant future, and then I’ll be able to compare the two.

Rating: 4/5

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