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Movie review: Olsen is scary good in ‘Silent House’

In this film image released by Open Road Films, Elizabeth Olsen is shown in a scene from "Silent House." (AP Photo/Open Road Films)

By Sean P. Means

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Mar 09 2012 04:41PM
Updated Mar 27, 2012 10:57AM

Elizabeth Olsen, after her star-making performance as a cult survivor in "Martha Marcy May Marlene," proves her mettle by holding our attention in this bare-bones horror thriller.

She plays Sarah, who’s rambling around the family’s old seaside house, helping her dad (Adam Trese) and her uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens) get the crumbling place ready to sell. With the power out and everyone dependent on lanterns and flashlights, Sarah gets easily spooked by every bump and noise from upstairs. But when something or someone whacks Dad bloody and unconscious, Sarah gets truly terrified.

Directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau ("Open Water"), who adapted Gustavo Hernandez’s 2010 Uruguayan thriller of the same name, make the terror palpable using handheld cameras and (like Hernandez’s film) what appears to be a single unbroken take, making the action unfold in real time. (Think of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 drawing-room thriller "Rope," a classic of this genre, but with the edits harder to detect.)

The story takes some strange turns, as it shifts jarringly from straightforward survival story to bloody psychodrama. But Olsen, whose face fills up the screen a good percent of the time, makes the scares convincing and the emotional payoff authentic.

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