La Casa Muda (2010) - QUICK HIT!! With the English language version of this film coming out this week I thought it was appropriate to review the original before seeing the new version. Translated to "The Silent House" it is a unique flick with a couple of different features not seen all the time. The film making novelty is that it looks like one long take, so you follow the characters around without leaving real time. I remember hearing about this in reading some blog here or there but can remember if it is actually one long shot or it is edited to look like one long shot. There are certainly places in the film where cuts could have been made without breaking the appearance of being in real time. The second feature to note is the skill the writer Oscar Estevez and director/cowriter Gustavo Hernandez have at keeping the story compelling throughout and playing with the reality of what we appear to be seeing in real time.
In the early scenes I was wondering about how they were going to keep the tension but really from the time Wilson (Gustavo Alonso) heads upstairs to investigate the noise his daughter Laura (Florencia Colucci) hears, the film is compelling. Using limited lighting, strong noises and the excellent reactions of Colucci the film is quite tense. You think she is a young woman maybe in her teens. When she hears a scream and a thump as she waits for her father her terror seems really genuine. We get to live her reality as she moves around the house investigating. Her physical portrayal is excellent, holding on to the light so scared she is barely able to hold it up to see in front of her. She is compelling from the start and carries the film forward. It is her first movie credit but she pulls it off like a pro.
The way it seems that the perpetrator(s) are messing with her it seems the idea is to terrify her. She leaves the living room hears a noise behind her, as she investigates that more noises upstairs. Needing the key she investigates only to then hear noise downstairs. She find her bound and unconscious father downstairs and realizes her does not have the key to the door. He must have dropped it upstairs. I won't go through the sequence but it was heartening the way the film kept my attention. I thought I figured the film out early, and in fact to an extent did but the way the story unfolded I totally for got this conclusion by the time the reveal of the plot came. I say nicely done to "La Casa Muda" for that. Seeming to set up a ghost story but flipping the switch was an excellent distraction.
Laura finally does get out of the house she runs and reaches the road. There is this vision of the ghost girl, (Maria Salazar) we have seen throughout and it really is a clue to what is going on. Still though when the owner of the house Nestor (Abel Tripaldi) arrives she is an emotional wreck. He insists in going into the house and checking things out and again we are distracted by the idea that it is just intruders. The fact that we end up back in the house and the scenes with Nestor and Laura are excellent, the flashing of the camera flash as a way of seeing in the dark is very effective scare tactic. The story climaxes as we learn more in this sequence about what we thought the reality of the film is. I liked the way the single shot effect of the film reality interacted. I don't want to give anything away so let me stop there.
I have to say when the turn came and it is a rather disturbing turn I was glad I did not have all the answers. Laura's reality was not what we thought and the unusual reasons for this this were surprising. Well written and executed, it is not the best film but it is a very nice horror film for a quiet night at home. I hope the remake is equally as good.
Rating (5.5) 5.0 and up are recommended Rent It!