Sundance One-Shot Horror Film ‘Silent House’ Sells For $3 Million, But Is The Movie a Marketing Scam?
Posted on Monday, January 24th, 2011 by Peter Sciretta
Mike Fleming is reporting that Mickey Liddell’s Liddell Entertainment has acquired distribution rights to the horror film Silent House. The film which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, is a remake of the Gustavo Hernandez-directed Uruguayan thriller La Casa Muda which premiered at Cannes. The concept is simple, a girl (played by Elizabeth Olsen) gets stuck in an old house, possibly haunted, and the movie is filmed in one continuous shot. The gimmick is quite fun, but is the film really one long continuous shot…. or is it all a marketing scam?
The official plot synopsis claims:
“[Silent House] is told in real time in one continuous take, just as Sarah sees – and experiences – it.”
In the official director’s statement, it reads:
“…We were immediately intrigued and excited by the challenge of telling a story in a single unbroken camera shot. Making this film fascinated us, as it presented a unique approach to filmmaking, and a new way to experience a movie.” … “Our fantastic actors and crew embraced the rigors involved in shooting this film. We were very fortunate to be working with a luminous and gifted leading lady, Elizabeth Olsen. Following her in a continuous take with no cuts, she draws the audience into her reality, provoking what we hope is an intensely visceral experience.”
While I have no concreate evidence, the consensus of everyone I talked with at the press screening was that the film was NOT shot in one continuous shot. There are at least two noticeable moments in the film where, most agree, the camera most likely cut. Not to go into spoilers, but one of the moments involves the lights to completely go out and the screen to go black for a period of time. The other involves a character exiting through a door — almost everyone I’ve talked to believes they saw a cut in the film at this point.
Erik Davis interviewed the filmmakers, Chris Kentis and Laura Lau -(who previously directed the low budget thriller Open Water), and asked them point blank if the movie was really shot in on continuous shot. Kentis appears to be very nervous in answering the question, and refused to reveal just how many takes it took to complete the one-take movie.
Is it just me or does it look like they aren’t telling the full truth when answering the question?
I know that if I spent days and weeks trying to film a one-take hour-and-a-half movie, I would probably know how many takes I shot to complete the film (or at very least, have a better answer). I don’t think anyone who knows about filmmaking that saw this film really believes it was shot in one continuous take.
And for the record, I don’t mind if the movie wasn’t actually shot in one-take. Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men have some sequences which are presented in one-take even though they are secretly cut together from a bunch of segments. It’s movie magic. The difference is that Cuarón doesn’t claim that these sequences were accomplished in one camera shot. I don’t like being lied to by a filmmaker or in the marketing.
I wonder if Liddell Entertainment will promote the movie with the claim that it was shot in one continuous take. And if the claim isn’t true, would be false advertising?