The whole film was shot in such a way as that it looks like one continuous shot. I noticed the odd cut here and there but overall the idea is very successful. It genuinely feels as though Elizabeth Olsen is in the house for 85 minutes, running, hiding from and fighting whatever is after her. Using just one camera, Olsen is on screen for about 84 of the 85 minutes and has to carry the entire film. She does so with great aplomb. The one shot idea isn’t original and indeed the film itself is a remake of a 2010 Uruguayan film but it’s a nice gimmick that is well used.
The house is brilliantly dressed to maximise the creepy feeling. It creaks and whistles and is filled with all manner of sinister fittings from old furniture and toys to large objects under sheets and unknown items half hidden in the shadows. It also feels a little maze like though you get to know your way around as the film progresses. Elizabeth Olsen is dressed in typical horror attire with a tight white vest which shows off her ‘ample talents’ as well as the blood and dirt she accumulates throughout the film. Her performance is also mind blowingly excellent. She was superb in Martha Marcy May Marlene and if anything even better here. She starts off a bit slowly but after twenty minutes goes all the way up to eleven where she stays until the final few moments during which she is pushing twelve. She is even better at the end than she was during the rest of the film.
So far, so good then. Unfortunately there are two major problems. The first is that it is nowhere near scary enough. I get scared by everything and I didn’t jump once. Don’t get me wrong, it’s scarier than Dark Shadows but so is my girlfriend in the morning. For a proper ‘scary’ horror, it didn’t produce the scares it needed to. There was plenty of tension but it didn’t go anywhere. My second problem is that I worked out part of the twist after about eight minutes and had unravelled everything by the mid point. The film still ended in a satisfying way but I felt where we were heading was fairly obvious. On the other hand, my girlfriend said she thought about it at the beginning but it didn’t totally click with her until the end so maybe I’m in a minority.
Overall the film will be best remembered for its clever cinematography rather than for its scares. It’s a nice idea but the plot has been done a thousand times. It creates plenty of tension and intrigue but doesn’t deliver the final blow. Elizabeth Olsen continues to impress and I look forward to seeing her again soon.