La Casa Muda (The Silent House) hails from Uruguay, and first time director Gustavo Hernández . It is an 86 minute story, told in a single, continuous shot. Laura and her father have been hired by a local man to make repairs to a property that he plans to soon sell. They arrive at the house and settle down in the living room for the night, intending to start work early the next morning. Before long, Laura hears a noise up on the second floor. Startled, she awakens her father. Unconcerned, he agrees to go upstairs and investigate to set Laura's mind at ease. After he leaves the room, it becomes apparent that the pair are not alone in the house.
Simple enough premise, right? While not a terribly original plotline, La Casa Muda is an interesting experiment in story telling. The single-shot format is a good tension builder, and eliminates the classic jump-cut, which has become a staple of modern horror (often to excess). The single shot still allows for sudden scares, but they have to be more carefully planned. Hernandez made good use of sweeping pans, allowing something to enter the scene when the camera panned one direction, and then having it be gone, or different when the camera came back around. This tended to happen more with camera movement than with slow pans, which would have been a nice addition for the purpose of variation.
I wasn't totally on board with the ending, but won't give anything away here. And even though I wasn't on board, it still didn't take away from the experience of watching - this film is a fascinating experiment in filmmaking, and watching it for that reason alone is worth the time invested.
It is being remade for American audiences by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, who last brought us Open Water. I am curious to see if they are going for a straight remake, or if they will change any of the plot elements at all. I could see this being a case of the remake potentially being better than the original, if they play their cards right.
We'll have to wait until March for the answer to that question. In the meantime, check out the trailer below (as well as a clip from the upcoming re-make, starring Elizabeth Olsen). Interested? Pick up the dvd.