Earlier this week we shared our review of the Sundance film 'Silent House' along with our interview with co-directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, who had previously given us the edge-of-your-seat thriller 'Open Water.' Leading up to and during Sundance, 'Silent House' –- which is a remake of a recent foreign film -- was being billed as a feature film made up of one, long continuous shot.
When we sat down with Kentis and Lau, they were content on sticking with this marketing tactic -- that the film was all one shot and quite tough to pull off. We lightly pressed them on the one-shot thing, and we could tell they weren't comfortable going into too many details because, look, fact of the matter is there were plenty of oppurtunities to include a few cuts throughout the film and a quick, well-trained eye could spot one or two.
Slashfilm picked up our interview the other day during a story in which they criticized the one-shot marketing tactic -– which had included a Sundance poster calling out the filmmaking technique –- for being a sham. Just another device used to try to sell a low-budget scary movie in a market that seems to be oversaturated with low-budget scary movies.
A similar thing happened at Sundance last year with the film 'Catfish.' After a few audiences had seen the film and raved, folks began questioning the authenticity of the so-called documentary, claiming many parts of it were staged for dramatic effect.
In my opinion, the 'Silent House' thing is completely different, and regardless of whether Kentis and Lau pulled the film off in one shot or not, it shouldn't take away from what they accomplished as filmmakers. Even if there are six or seven cuts worked into the finished film (and trust us -- there aren't any more than that), then it's still quite an accomplishment. This is especially true for a film that includes a number of freaky set pieces that must have been set up ahead of time –- haunted-house-style –- so that the characters would run into them as they moved throughout the house.
Furthermore, the film works. It's scary. And it's not scary because it's all in one shot; it's scary because of the story, the characters and the effects. Unlike with 'Catfish,' the filmmakers didn't have to trick us, plot-wise, in order to succeed. 'Silent House' works on its own regardless of the one-shot technique, and anyone who bashes the movie because its marketing may be lying about the way it was filmed is criticizing it for the wrong reasons.
What do you think? Would it bother you if a film marketed as being done in one continuous shot wasn't actually done in one continuous shot?