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On Friday morning I woke up early, got out of bed filled with intense excitement and happily got myself ready for what I knew was going to be a good day. Why? Because “Silent House” had finally been released in theaters.

As corny as it may sound, this is the kind of excitement that I always have when a movie comes out that I can’t wait to see. I’m a huge film lover and going to the movie theater has been my favorite thing to do since I can remember.

From the very first time I saw the trailer for “Silent House” I was hooked. From the storyline to the way the movie was filmed, in real time, I thought it would be a new, unique movie experience for me. And I was counting down the months until it would be released.

So finally on that fateful morning as I climbed out of bed in my Gastonia home, not groggily but ready to begin the countdown until I could see “Silent House,” I had already decided to drive to the theater to purchase tickets early. I figured that the movie would sell out quickly because it looked like such a hit.

So at around noon I drove to the movie theater and purchased tickets for the 9:40 p.m. showing of “Silent House.” I thought for sure this was a smart move. After all, it was a Friday night, so the theaters are normally packed. And I had an enormous amount of faith that this movie would be great before I had even watched it.

I arrived at the theater at 9:10 that evening, excited as ever, to finally watch the movie I had been so excited about. I wanted to get there early so I could get a good seat, assuming that the theater would be packed with people ready to see this movie.

But as my boyfriend and I walked into theater room number 10, as directed by my movie stub, I looked around and realized we were the only ones in the room.

Okay, so we were 30 minutes early. But I have been to movies in the past where even 30 minutes early the theaters were half-full.

I took my seat, anxiously awaiting the movie to start, and it took about another 15 minutes for other people to start entering the theater room. Finally, more people. But as they started to take their seats, my happiness that people were showing up to see a good movie was overshadowed by the behavior the crowd was displaying. They were loud, boisterous, text-happy and overall rude.

By the time the movie started there were about 20-30 people in what should have been a packed room to see this movie. While I was hoping the noise would calm down as soon as the lights were dimmed, I was disappointed when it surely did not.

People going in and out to get more snacks, people talking as loudly as they would in a normal situation, people texting and people laughing; this is what my “Silent House” experience was within the first 20 minutes of the 88-minute-long movie.

As I mentioned before, the movie was shot in real time, meaning it appears to be one single shot instead of being composed of countless different scenes edited together. The camera stays focused on Elizabeth Olson’s character Sarah and does not leave her side throughout the entire movie.

This creates an intimate viewing experience and allows the audience to become just as frightened as Sarah throughout some of the most gripping parts of the movie. While watching it feels as if one is in the same situation, and even in the same house, as Sarah through the duration of the movie.

So because of this intimacy with the on-screen action that viewers are supposed to feel while watching this movie, it was hard to be in a room filled with loud people while I was trying to lose myself in the film.

Believe me, this is the kind of movie that draws you in and carries you along with the experiences of the characters. And while I was trying to concentrate on the movie’s events the people around me would simply not shut up.

When you go to the movies it is to experience what is taking place on-screen, not to hear the commentary of the audience. And what I got while seeing “Silent House” was ignorant commentary the entire time.

The only thing that stopped me from notifying the movie theater employees was that I simply did not want to miss any part of the movie.

The noises from the crowd faded in and out as the movie grew more and more intense. As the plot developed I was drawn further into the movie, my mind constantly trying to figure out a reason for what was happening to Sarah. But there were times when the audience’s behavior pulled me back out.

Even with the noise around me I did enjoy the movie. I liked it even more than I thought I would, which was a pleasant surprise. The acting from Olsen, which was more like reacting to the craziness around her, was stunning and definitely believable.

The movie had me feeling tense from beginning to end, which is my favorite quality in a movie.

And if it was not for the disrespectful crowd of moviegoers that I was in the presence of, the viewing experience would have been perfect and I would have walked out of the theater raving about how I thought “Silent House” was brilliantly made.

But that is not what occurred, because as the screen blackened and the credits rolled at the end of “Silent House” and I found myself wanting to applaud, about five members of the audience simultaneously insulted the movie I had just grown to love.

“That was horrible!”

“Refund!”

“Wow, that was not a good movie.”

These were some of the things that audience members started to say.

I had just been blown away by a gripping film, and other people were insulting it this much? That was not the reaction I was expecting, and it led me to widen my eyes, extend my hands and follow up with a dramatic “What!?”

Walking out of the theater I felt that I had been insulted. It was so hard for me to concentrate on how much I enjoyed the movie because I could not get over why people would pay to see a movie, yet spend the majority of the time texting, talking or outwardly bashing the film while other people in the theater were trying to enjoy it.

I really do respect the opinions of people after they see a movie and either like it or dislike it, and most times the audience’s reception of the film is pretty clear by the way they act during the duration of the movie. But I felt like these people did not even give “Silent House” a chance because they barely watched it.

As of right now “Silent House” is getting mixed reviews from critics and has a 49% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

I, for one, loved it. The camera angles from director-duo Chris Kentis and Laura Lau were fantastic, the real time filming was perfect for this type of movie and, as I said, the acting of Elizabeth Olsen is what sold the entire thing.

I think part of the reason why “Silent House” is getting mixed reviews is because it was advertised to be a horror film and it really is not. It is a psychological thriller, so while many critics are saying that there are few “real scares” in the movie, my opinion is that it’s because it’s not a true horror movie. Maybe that was why some of the audience members were so visibly upset.

Walking into the theater I was expecting a horror movie as well, but I left knowing that is was much more than that. Both the characters on-screen and the audience members go through a psychological journey while watching “Silent House” that cannot be explained by dubbing it a simple scary movie.

My only complaint was my experience as a whole, regarding the crude audience members I was forced to share a theater with. And the fact that none of them seemed to appreciate such a unique thriller like this really made me sad about what the general public considers to be a “good movie” anymore.

So many people get caught up in the action and special effects of a typical blockbuster and forget that there are other kinds of movies out there with real substance and perks differing from a lot of mainstream flicks.

Because “Silent House” was well-received at both Sundance and Cannes film festivals, and simply because the movie looked so odd and unique, I expected the theater to be sold-out, packed or even simply just crowded with people who wanted to support it. But it wasn’t any of those things, which really disappointed me.

I left the Gastonia theater feeling incredibly let down, not by the movie but by the experience. My favorite activity had just been ruined as far as I was concerned as I drove home sadly.

But then I wondered if it was just the town I was in, or if I had just had bad luck with the audience members that night. I don’t know what it was, but it made me feel sad for the future of movies like this.

For those who have not yet seen “Silent House” but plan to see it, my advice is to go during an off-time for the movie theaters, such as in the middle of the day. This is the kind of movie that you want to immerse yourself in, with everything silent around you but the movie itself.

Seeing it that way will make the experience much better than the one that I had.

 

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Haley Twist is the former Niner Times Editor-in-Chief. A Religious Studies student who worked with the Niner Times for two years, she has previously served as the Lifestyle Editor and the Arts & Entertainment Editor for the paper. She is a 2012 recipient of the Randall Beavers Memorial Award and a 2013 recipient of the Shameka Smith-Hamilton Award.

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