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Silent House Blu-ray

United States
Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Universal Studios | 2011 | 86 min | Rated R | Jul 24, 2012

Silent House (Blu-ray)

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

English SDH, French, Spanish

50GB Blu-ray Disc
Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD)
UV digital copy
iTunes digital copy
DVD copy
Mobile features

Slipcover in original pressing

Region free

List price: $19.98, Price history

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Movie rating
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Blu-ray rating
Video 3.1 of 53.1
Audio 3.6 of 53.6
Extras 2.0 of 52.0
Based on 4 user reviews

Movie appeal

Psychological thriller13%

Silent House


Silent House Blu-ray offers decent video and solid audio in this fan-pleasing Blu-ray release

Husband-and-wife directorial team Chris Kentis and Laura Lau direct this suspense horror remake starring Elizabeth Olsen. Sarah (Olsen) has returned to the remote country house where she spent her childhood summers to help pack it up and prepare it for sale. While she is alone in the unoccupied, dimly-lit house, mysterious creaking noises start to emanate from upstairs and Sarah soon finds herself caught in the grip of terror.

For more about Silent House and the Silent House Blu-ray release, see Silent House Blu-ray Review published by on where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.

Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens
Directors: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau

» See full cast & crew

Silent House Blu-ray, Video Quality

  3.0 of 5

Before getting to Silent House and its 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer, it's important to define the differences between artistic intention, encoding anomalies, and unintended inheritance. Filmmaker's intention includes any element the director, cinematographer or editor deliberately includes or features in a finalized presentation, regardless of how subjectively pleasing or displeasing that element may be. Encoding anomalies are just that: imperfections that are exclusive to a particular encode. These imperfections do not appear in the theatrical presentation and are caused by the relative limitations of 1080p resolution and current high definition technology. Finally, there's unintended inheritance (or, perhaps more clearly, source defects). These are issues, discrepancies and inconsistencies that trace back to the cameras and equipment used during filming or post-production. Banding or noise may be caused by a less-than-perfect encode, or they may be inherent to the original photography or image. Something like shallow depth of field, on the other hand, typically falls under the intention umbrella.

Which brings us to Silent House and its problematic presentation. Shot using inexpensive Canon EOS 5D Mk II high definition handheld cameras, the film is haunted by a number of inherited issues. Banding, ranging from mild to severe, appears throughout and huddles around almost every bright light source. Various types of noise surge and relent as the already troubled lighting rises and falls. Rolling shutter artifacts -- dubbed the "jello effect" for good reason, as quick pans produce warped, curved and wobbly edges -- become obvious when Sarah briefly escapes the house and runs outside. Black levels are sometimes muted or chalky, and rarely bottom out. And a grid of tough-to-spot, evenly spaced vertical lines stretch across and hover over the entire image (to see them, focus on the screen itself, not the movie, when the camera pans during a drably lit sequence). Yes, it takes an eagle-eyed videophile to spot some of it, especially the vertical lines, but they're all there, lurking in the murky shadows itching to pounce on anyone who notices them. (In other words, don't go looking for them unless you're prepared to be distracted for remainder of the film. What has been seen cannot be unseen.) These issues should not be attributed to intention, though, or given a free pass when evaluating the presentation. Co-directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau have made it clear they would have rather shot the film using more advanced cameras.

Get to the point! Alright, alright. For all intents and purposes, Universal's AVC-encoded transfer is a faithful presentation; one that even has some merit. Fine detail is well-resolved (whenever the camera isn't hurrying down a hall or violently thrashing), closeups reveal a good amount of detail, skintones are nicely saturated, and colors, when given enough light to breathe, are lovely and vibrant. Black levels are still quite stubborn, with washed-out, overly bright shadows that tend to neuter any true sense of claustrophobia or fear, and contrast is inconsistent (another side effect produced by the finicky Canon EOS 5D Mk II). Be that as it may, there are far too many distractions and unintended issues (inherited or no) to give the Silent House video presentation high marks. Those who are only concerned with source faithfulness will be more kind, I'm sure. I draw my line at intention, though. If Kentis and Lau made an artistic decision to feature rampant banding, vertical lines and other oddities in their film, I'd be the first to cheer the results. As is? It's a decent but flawed presentation that does more harm than good.

Silent House Blu-ray, Audio Quality

  3.5 of 5

Second verse, same as the first. Kentis and Lau faced countless challenges while attempting to capture all the natural sounds featured in Silent House. First and foremost, Olsen had to be followed through the house by an entire crew of people (among them the cinematographer, camera operator, and supporting performers), all of whom made an unruly ruckus as they ran after the agile actress through the supposedly "silent" house. Try as they did to muffle the noise of their feet and equipment using all manner of footwear and padding, nothing worked. Worse, the co-directors abandoned every attempt to fix these scenes using ADR, as they felt Olsen's performance in the recording booth wasn't nearly as convincing as the breathing, panicking and screaming she unleashed during the three-week shoot. Instead, they had to subject the audio to rigorous editing and mixing. They also didn't rely on a lot of foleying work in the studio since, again, the sounds captured in the actual house were so much more authentic. Then there was the house itself, which lay beneath the flight path of one of the busiest landing strips at LaGuardia Airport. Sound proofing the house was easy enough but, as a direct result, dampened the acoustics of the rooms.

So where did all that leave Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track? Dangling in limbo somewhere between faithful and underwhelming. Dialogue and voices are intelligible but aren't all that clear or consistent; forgivable, considering most of it enhances the atmosphere and on-the-run frenzy of Kentis and Lau's real-time frightfest. The rest of the sound design, though, doesn't enhance the film all that much. The LFE channel provides plenty of power with little direction. A scare or jolt results in an imprecise thoom and little more, while a near-constant, pulsing hum accounts for the majority of the low-end output. Falling boxes, slamming doors and other tricks of the genre trade follow suit but are still either a bit too dull or tinny. The rear speakers do their best to unsettle the listener too, but creep through much of the film without many responsibilities. Even when the third act ratchets up both the tension and the fullness of the soundfield, immersion is lacking and the experience remains largely front-heavy and subdued. It's just unclear how much of the track's shortcomings derive from intention and how much of it derives from any loss or damage done while gutting the raw audio in post-production. Ultimately, the film's DTS-HD Master Audio track is more than adequate and seems to make the most of whatever it's handed.

Silent House: Other Editions


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