Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
Mary F. Pols,
Sarah does any number of silly things while scurrying through this not-so-silent house, but keeps the audience on her side; you want her to get out of the house immediately but you don't get annoyed with her when she can't.
For 88 minutes, Olsen rivets our attention, and the camera's, so fiercely it verges on unbearable. Silent House is her movie.
New York Times:
It's not hard to guess the source of her horror, and so the film's most interesting aspects are its gimmicks rather than its frights.
Gets it right for a good stretch, building the pressure to the boiling point as star Elizabeth Olsen appears to break down onscreen. But once the stumbling starts, it doesn't really stop until the movie ends.
It's a home-invasion shocker a la "The Strangers," but this one is made even more trippy by the gimmick that the film appears to be shot in one long take and occurs in real time.
Olsen continues to reveal a startling comfort and maturity in front of the camera for someone so young and relatively inexperienced. But the film's dexterous cinematographer, Igor Martinovic, is just as much of a star behind the lens.
"Silent House'' is up to something. The filmmakers, Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, must have seen plenty of horror movies worth discussing in a women's studies class.
San Francisco Chronicle:
The directors have come up with a new and powerful way to film a thriller: Silent House contains no quick editing in the active moments, and there is never an instance when the movie cuts unexpectedly to something scary as the soundtrack thunders.
It's Olsen's performance that makes Sarah's plight matter. And the actress proves that her mesmerizing turn in last fall's Martha Marcy May Marlene -- about a woman on the lam from a cult -- wasn't a fluke.
A denouement more textbook than thrilling stalls some of the movie's power. But the early chills are potent, intense.
Eric D. Snider,
Practically a master class in how to tell a spooky-house story.
A certain technical virtuosity is the signal virtue of Silent House, a creaky haunted house that, once the big twist is revealed, makes very little sense at all.
Los Angeles Times:
Sometimes you don't want to know what is lurking in the dark because the answer is just too obvious and dumb.
"The silence will kill you!" warn the posters for "Silent House." That's only if the boredom doesn't get you first, though.
The creeping presence of horror-flick hokum not only robs the scares of their strength, it shatters the realism that the single-take format is trying to convey.
[Olsen is] terrific at showing shifts of emotion just underneath the skin of her wide, china-doll face.
Even if Silent House had turned out as grimy, gory and stupid as much of its terrorplex ilk, the film would still be an achievement simply owing to its construction.
New York Daily News:
The tricky camera moves that fill up "Silent House" make for one-half of a nerveracking horror film - before the movie's obviousness just gets on your nerves.
New York Post:
Demonstrating the limits of being too clever in a genre movie, the art-house chiller "Silent House" lets the tenseness of its first act trickle away.
New York Observer:
Look hard and you might find a few thrills in a potboiler called Silent House, but I was fighting too hard to stay awake to pay much attention.
Unfortunately, so much of what could be great about this movie is undercut by the instability of the hand-held camera and the weak ending.
My attention was held for the first act or so. Then any attempt at realism was abandoned, and it became clear that the house, and the movie containing it, were devices to manufacture methodical thrills.
Paranormal Activity has been here before, of course, but Silent House springs tangy new tricks, and Olsen is a primo scream queen.
Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Silent House feels like a psychotic episode come to life. It's impressive and oppressive, and it very effectively gets on your nerves.
The camera's unblinking eye constantly stays with Olsen, and we feel in as much danger as she is.
Filmmakers Chris Kentis and Laura Lau ('Open Water') should have plugged the original's plot holes and straightened out its logic.
It wouldn't work without the exceptional work of Olsen. Her uneasily captivating performance here could almost be viewed as the "why" prequel to Martha Marcy May Marlene, the other chiller from Sundance 2011 that established her as rising star to watch.
The pic's true star is Martinovic's unblinking camera, which really ought to have been let loose in some other house.
Silent House does superficially spiff up the haunted-house movie, but it's not built to last.
A scary, yet thoughtful - some might even say deep - art-house frightfest.