We Bought a Zoo
A widowed father played by Matt Damon moves to the South Californian country and purchases a zoo with his family
On Film4: 31 Aug 6:25PM
Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) begins to suspect that she, her father and uncle are not alone in their creepy old summerhouse. Horror remake notable for giving the appearance of having been shot in one take
Part home-invasion horror, part Repulsion-style psychodrama, Silent House (from the creators of 2003's Open Water), is a remake of Uruguay's 2010 La Casa Muda, which was edited to give the illusion that it was shot in one continuous, unbroken shot. Unlike its famous single-shot forefather, Alfred Hitchcock's Rope (whose real-time conceit it also shares), Silent House doesn't stick to one relatively modest apartment, instead preferring to rove all over a large house, from attic to cellar and into the grounds surrounding this remote homestead.
There's something about houses as spaces that invite this kind of internalised horror. The German word for uncanny, 'unheimlich', translates more directly as 'un-homely'. An Englishman's home is his castle; invasion is a personal attack. Home is where the heart is; a heartless home is a literal expression of the unheimlich. It's these types of tensions that Silent House plays on, initially with a some success, largely due to the performance of Elizabeth Olsen, whose character is the keystone on which the film's structure rests.
Unfortunately, at a certain point about an hour in, it all starts to unravel, and, should you glance at the time, you'll realise there's still about half an hour left to go, and that there's simply no way to spin out any logical conclusion to what has gone before into a half an hour's worth of satisfying narrative. And so it proves.
Elizabeth Olsen continues to emerge as one of the most interesting young actresses around, but she can't do much with the final act of this frontloaded exercise in technique over story.
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