'Open Water' directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau return to Sundance this year with 'Silent House,' a horror flick whose main point of interest is that it was filmed in one continuous shot. Unlike some of its shaky camera brethren 'Paranormal Activity' and 'The Blair Witch Project,' 'House' looks and feels more artsy than your typical midnight fare, but its hollow characters and unraveling plot quickly undermine a promising premise.
In 'Silent House,' Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) returns with her father to their family vacation home to finish renovating and packing before putting the house on the market. The house, however, is far from ready; it's leaking and moldy, the electricity doesn't work, and all its windows are boarded up because local squatters broke them. From the very first glimpse of her, it's apparent that there's something not quite right with Sarah; her shoulders hunch down in a way that's meant to make her seem smaller, she has headaches, and, as she tells a creepy neighbor who claims to be former childhood playmate, her memory is full of holes.
Sarah and school "don't get along," so she works for her father, who is alternately chummy, infantilizing, and controlling. "If everyone just did what I said, no one would get hurt," he remarks almost cheerily as they drink beer. And then there's her uncle Peter, who has the whole "you've grown up so much thing" happening, even though he looks like he's only a few years older than she is. After Daddy dearest and Peter get into a tiff, Peter drives off in a huff, leaving the father and daughter alone in the old house.