The Silent House (2010 film)
The Silent House (Spanish: La Casa Muda) is an Uruguayan Spanish-language horror film released in 2010 and directed by Gustavo Hernández. The film is supposedly inspired by real events that took place in the 1940s, but no information can be found to authenticate the claims. A small-budget film originally intended for local audiences, it has achieved success in several important international film festivals such as the Cannes Film Festival (where it was shown at Director's Fortnight). At the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, Chris Kentis and Laura Lau presented an English-language remake entitled Silent House, starring Elizabeth Olsen.
Laura (Florencia Colucci) and her father Wilson (Gustavo Alonso) arrive at a cottage in a secluded area in order to repair it since its owner Nestor (Abel Tripaldi) will soon put the house on sale. Beforehand, he tells them that the floor on the second level is unstable and that it is unsafe to go upstairs. They intend to spend the night there in order to start the repairs the following morning. Because the windows are nailed up, the house's interior is dark even at daytime.
Firstly, Laura finds an enabled radio which she turns off. Shortly after, she hears a sound in the upper floor of the house. Her father goes up to see what is going on while Laura remains downstairs. Suddenly, Laura hears what appears to be combat and is immediately worried. Moments later, she finds her father restrained and murdered in a room downstairs. She starts to cry and hugs his dead body which is why her clothes are covered in blood.
Then, Laura tries to flee but someone has locked the doors and she cannot open the window either. Armed with a reap hook and a lamp, she stumbles through the house to find a way outside. As she reenters the living room where she and her father were sleeping before, she notices that her father's dead body which she originally found on the floor has been moved into the chair which he slept in before and that someone has put a mysterious puppet on him.
Suddenly, another melody plays. This time, the music originates from the upper floor. It is only now that Laura goes upstairs where she finds a blood tray and another enabled radio and turns it off, too. As she hears foot steps, she hides under a table and turns her lamp off. An unknown person armed with a knife and a lamp enters the room on a seeking manner, but Laura remains unnoticed so the person leaves again. Hereafter, Laura manages to find the key to the front door and runs downstairs. She hears that someone is following her, but is able to unlock the door and to run outside.
After panically running through the grove in front of the house, she stops on the road leading to the house. In the background, her pursuer approaches holding a lamp. However, in this moment Laura is almost run over by Nestor who is riding his pickup truck and who was on his way to the house for unknown reasons in the middle of the night. The pursuer's lamp is shut down immediately. Although Laura's clothes are covered in blood and the fact that she tells Nestor about the attack, the latter does not seem convinced and insists on searching the house.
As both enter the house, Laura admits that her father was attacked upstairs to which Nestor accuses her for having disobeyed his order to not go upstairs. They mount to the second floor where, all of the sudden, Nestor disappears through a door and Laura's lamp is shut down. Anyhow, she gets a hold on an old SLR camera and manages to light the room up for a split-second due to the camera's flash each time she takes a photo. On one of the photos, she sees a little girl in a white dress. On the last one, a young man runs towards her and tries to stab her.
Logically, Laura jumps up and flees to the next room to avoid getting stabbed. The room is well-lighted and noone seems to follow her. In there, she discovers plenty of photos on a wall and in a baby buggy. They mainly show Nestor and a woman in underwear.
After this, Laura goes back downstairs where she finds Nestor. He is also restrained in the same manner her father was and lying on the ground for he is seriously injured. She bends over and they kiss each other. Then, they have a brief conversation: Nestor tells Laura that he loves her and confesses he only called her father for help for the purpose of seeing her to which Laura replies she found his pictures and askes him: "Do you miss her? Do you want to tell her something? She is here now.". In a mirror, the little girl in the white dress is visible again for a mere second and appears to be in the room. During the conversation, Laura becomes more and more aggressive and finally shouts at Nestor. Eventually, she says: "You two killed my baby. You're going to die on the manner my father did.", drags Nestor to the living room and sits him into the chair after removing her father's corpse from it. After putting the mysterious puppet on him, she kills him using her reap hook.
"La Casa Muda" focuses on Laura's plight, second by second, as she tries to leave the house unharmed and ends up discovering the dark secret it hides.
La Casa Muda was shot to look like it was in real time in one continuous 88 minute take. Its claims that it is one of only a handful of theatrically-released movies to be shot in a continuous long take, and that it is the first ever single-take horror film, are contentious, as the camera used, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, can only film up to 15 minutes of continuous footage. With a budget of just six thousand dollars, it was filmed using a handheld high-definition digital single-lens reflex camera (the Canon EOS 5D Mark II) over a period of just four days.
Release and reception
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on 16 May 2010, a Director's Fortnight selection. That summer and fall it was screened on the festival circuit at the Melbourne International Film Festival, Sitges Film Festival, and the Stockholm International Film Festival. Its first theatrical release began on 27 January 2011 in Argentina, followed by a 4 March release in Uruguay, where it was produced. It received mixed reviews after its 8 April 2011 release in the UK, with critics generally praising the director's technical achievements, but finding the overall storyline unimpressive. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian praised the film, writing: "This is a smart, scary film and a technical tour de force with its own skin-crawling atmosphere of fear."
- List of submissions to the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of Uruguayan submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
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- "The Silent House (La casa muda) Review"