Spoiler Corner is “hopefully” a regular feature that gives us the opportunity to explore movies in a more detailed manner by discussing the plot points or gags many consider to be spoilers. The point will be to reveal twists, character deaths or reveals that are found most commonly in the final act of movies. On board for this post we have the remake of SILENT HOUSE.
The spoiler free rundown of SILENT HOUSE is that the film follows Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen), her father and her uncle returning to their old summer home to do some fixing up so that they can sell it. When some strange noises are heard and other unexplained issues occur Sarah finds herself struggling to survive the night.
You can expect spoilers from here on out so if you clicked this link by accident do not read any further. For SILENT HOUSE I believe it’s best to start at the end and then go back and talk about specific moments that either don’t work or don’t make sense through the course of the film, which was my biggest complain in my review. The last scene of the movie shows Sarah confronting Sophia, the girl that shows up at the house at the beginning claiming to be an old friend. It appears that Sophia is getting some kind of revenge on her family until Sarah attacks her and Sophia states “Stop punishing yourself” and Sarah has the same wound she just inflicted on Sophia. It is then revealed that Sarah is Sophia as well as the other muddied attacker and she has knocked out, shot and tied up her uncle and father. Sarah then confronts her father about sexual abuse that the two of them inflicted upon her and took photographs of that the father and uncle kept finding and hiding from her throughout the film. After Sarah’s father begs her to release him and insists she’s seeing things she unties him and then he hits her. Sarah gets the upper hand and eventually kills her father by presumably smashing a sledgehammer down on his head but leaves without killing her uncle who begs her not to kill him and apologizes to her.
This ending has similar implications in the original film LA CASA MUDA where there are several hints of incest but in LA CASA MUDA there’s the addition of a possible abortion or one of her family members killing the baby as the main character states at a moment during the film. In the original the main character also kills everyone in the house where here Sarah leaves her uncle alive. The twist in both films presents issues that I feel hurts the overall experience.
My problem is that if our protagonist is actually the antagonist then what we are watching doesn’t exactly fit. We are watching Sarah react to herself making noises and chasing herself and finding bodies within the house for her to find. Her projections chase and attack her and she is scared to death of all of it. If I stretch my belief a bit then I guess she could just be imagining that her attackers represent her dad and uncle chasing her when she was younger but that still doesn’t explain how we wouldn’t see her attacking her dad or her uncle. It seems like it was just a convenient way for the filmmakers to trick the audience and hope they don’t think about it too much- and if they do, have an excuse as to why it makes sense.
I’m not completely sold on my complaints though- if someone worded an explanation in a way that seems plausible I could look passed certain complaints. However, I’m still standing my ground on not liking the ending. I’m ok with her being in the house and stirring up all the feelings and seeking revenge, I just don’t like the way it was approached. I don’t believe it all had to be spelled out so explicitly where as LA CASA MUDA while I still wasn’t 100% thrilled with the ending at least left it open so you could speculate on some level. It ventures into being somewhat open ended when the dad was pleading with Sarah that she was seeing things which could have been plausible since she did seem sort of crazy at that second, but then all of that is wiped clean when she untied him and he proceeds to hit her, berate the uncle for being a pussy and confirms he is a slimy douchebag. Not to mention how shady both the dad and the uncle reacted when they found the Polaroid pictures. If they’d just picked them up and stashed them away without reacting it would have been less obvious, but instead they sat and admired their handiwork for a few seconds, then within earshot of Sarah said something along the lines of “I can’t believe he leaves these laying around,” before going out of their way to ensure Sarah does not see them.
Last part of the spoiler discussion I want to address is the somewhat lazy nature of the scares. LA CASA MUDA did a great job of making my skin crawl with the subtle reveals and creepy sounds along with the atmosphere- SILENT HOUSE has reveals that aren’t so subtle, less of the small details that made LA CASA MUDA creepy and the camera work made it hard to really make out what was happening. Granted the surprise factor was lessened by me having seen LA CASA MUDA but some scenes were ripped right from it that weren’t done as well. The camera scene where Sarah uses the Polaroid camera flash to see in darkness builds well enough and the jump scares are effective but if you’ve seen LA CASA MUDA you know they are- granted even if you haven’t you probably know during one or two of the flashes someone is going to be right in frame to give you the jolt.
Maybe with a few extra viewings some of my complaints will ease over time, but for now the above spoilers sum up what hindered my overall liking of SILENT HOUSE. Now that the cat’s out of the bag feel free to discuss your opinions below and your theories as to why you think SILENT HOUSE does or does not make sense- or just didn’t work for you on a completely different level.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)