Nothing is quite what it first appears to be with Silent House
, which starts off feeling like yet another bump-in-the-night haunted house story before veering off into unexpected territory. Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) gets trapped in the darkened house that her father (Adam Trese) and uncle (Eric Sheffer Stevens) are renovating and becomes increasingly terrified by an assortment of heavy footsteps, slamming doors and bloodied bodies. The film’s formal conceit---it presents as one continuous, real-time take---helps tie a stomach-knot of suspense, and well-placed bits of early dialogue lay a foundation of uncertainty about whether Sarah’s subsequent ordeal is physical or psychological in nature. For all its merits, though, the movie steps into icky territory with a final twist that, while genuinely shocking, feels exploitative in the context of the pop horror genre.