La casa muda
starring Florencia Colucci, Abel Tripaldi, Gustavo Alonso, María Salazar
screenplay by Oscar Estévez
directed by Gustavo Hernández
starring Stephen Spinella, Roxanne Mesquida, Jack Plotnick, Wings Hauser
written and directed by Quentin Dupieux
by Walter Chaw Billed as being filmed in a single shot (though the skeptical--and those taken in by the "unedited" long takes of Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men--should wonder why an editor is credited), Gustavo Hernández's zero-budget conceptual experiment The Silent House (La casa mudi) has found a way not only to suggest a gimmick successfully carried through, but also to weave that gimmick into a richer thematic tapestry. Here, the digital camera isn't carried by a protagonist, Blair Witch-like, but instead floats around the victim of the movie's horrors, one Laura (Florencia Colucci), who's endeavouring with father Wilson (Gustavo Alonso) to clean up an old abandoned house in preparation of its sale. The camera does take on the point-of-view of someone at some point, then jumps back to an objective place, then plays that trick Evil Dead II plays with perspective in the scene where Ash wakes up in a clearing and looks around in a panning 360-degree take, only for the audience to discover that the camera eye is both character and commentator, more physical in its way than a first-person point-of-view could ever be. In a genre dependent on cutting for its scares, in fact, The Silent House's accomplishments are all the more impressive. It's suffocating (I'd never considered how liberating edits were from a complete immersion into a film) and at times unbearably tense--and though some will point to the airlessness of Hitch's Rope or the fluid choreography of Alexander Sokurov's Russian Ark, The Silent House is a different beast altogether.
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