Cannes Review: Gustavo Hernández's Film 'The Silent House'
by Alex Billington
May 22, 2010
One film at Cannes that was particularly unique was Gustavo Hernández's The Silent House, or La Casa Muda, a Uruguayan horror film shot entirely in one-take. This 79-minute haunted house film was shot on a professional Canon DSLR camera in one full non-stop, non-cutting take. While the film's story didn't really stand out, it was a technical and visual achievement like no other, and incredible to watch simply because it was amazing that Hernández and his cast could pull of something like this. If you're a fan of horror or want to just want to be mesmerized by a great technical achievement like this, The Silent House is a must see.
Yes, I know that Alfred Hitchcock's Rope is presented in entirely one-take as well, but that film was just cut together using shorter 10-minute scenes, whereas The Silent House was actually shot (as far as we know) in one non-stop take, from start to finish. The plot in the film follows a daughter (Florencia Colucci) and her father as they (starting outside) head to an old house at dusk to prepare it to be sold. As they settle in for the night, the daughter hears a creepy sound upstairs, and the craziness begins. It mostly takes place inside of this house, but there's even a scene that leads outside into the forest briefly, then back into the house again.
If you think you've seen some amazing cinematography before, just wait until you see this. The Silent House is beautifully shot, in every sense of that word, and cinematographer Pedro Luque (who shot Panic Attack) is an absolute master with the camera. He frames certain scenes flawlessly for the story's sake; I still almost don't believe that he was able to actually keep the camera positioned perfectly in every scene for a non-stop 75 minutes. It's shot like a regular film with a cameraman, but he plays with angles, mirrors and positioning in ways you've probably never seen before; it's truly a technical marvel to experience, I can guarantee that!
The only problem is that, despite all these impeccable visuals, the story is a bit dull and the ending falls a bit flat. Additionally, the film could use a good sound mixing overhaul (and I hope if a US distributor picks it up they'll give them some extra money to have the sound professionally re-done), because it sounded like it was recorded in mono. The story is based on real events that occurred at a mysterious house exactly like this in 1944, but most won't remember it for its plot, just the visuals. Although I was also amazed that lead actress Florencia Colucci could deliver as superb of a non-stop performance as she did. See this as soon as you can!