Following a Film Comment Selects advance screening of their new real-time horror movie Silent House starring Elizabeth Olsen, directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau sat down for a Q&A moderated by Film Comment editor Gavin Smith. The duo are best known for their 2003 shark thriller Open Water, a Sundance favorite that went on to become a surprise box office smash. We've got full video of the fascinating conversation below, but be warned: it includes major spoilers!
Silent House is presented as one continuous shot, though saying that fails to do justice to the experience of watching the film. The clever ways the filmmakers hide cuts and the sheer complexity of the camera work and production choreography involved—the filmmakers discussed both candidly during the Q&A—has the viewer constantly asking: "how'd they do that?" More importantly, though, the single-shot technique creates some relentless tension as the film's horrors unfold.
According to Kentis and Lau, one of the most difficult parts of making Silent House was finding an actress who could maintain the emotional intensity of the role for takes as long as 13 minutes. And as Smith pointed out, she also had to be relatable and likeable—someone you'd want to spend 90 minutes with. In Martha Marcy May Marlene (NYFF '11) star Elizabeth Olsen, the filmmakers found both. Her background in theater and ineffable charm made her the perfect fit for the challenging role.
Kentis and Lau's candid conversation about the filming of Silent House makes for fascinating viewing, covering everything from the challenges of adaptation (the film is based on a Uruguayan thriller La casa muda) to the hunt for the perfect house to film in, and even a tangent about the U.S.S. Indianapolis that explains what the duo have been up to since Open Water. But, once again, we recommend seeing the film before you watch, as the Q&A contains major plot spoilers: