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SILENT HOUSE — Japanese Game Show Won’t Translate to Film

Not all mediums are created equal.

Days of Wine and Roses would not make a good animated film.

Moneyball would not migrate well into a puppet performance.

And not every Japanese game show should grace the big screen as a feature.

Let’s get this straight: I am a prude.

Nevertheless, Japan’s Silent Library (Gaki no Tsukai) offered a fair number of moments blending pain, silliness and odd things only Japanese laugh at. Leave this subject matter to age quietly in its own TV medium.

But directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau would have none of that.

No, sir.

Kentis and Lau, you may recall, gave us the 2004 hit Open Water about a vacationing couple who squander a perfectly good hotel room for several days of bobbing in the sea. (The film wouldn’t translate well into a play, but might make a cracking good puppet show. I digress.)

So our husband-and-wife directing duo take Silent Library, call it Silent House and turn Elizabeth Olsen loose to find her way out minus all structure and rules. Instead of a library, Sarah (Olsen) and her father (Adam Trese) arrive to fix up a creepy old lakeside house. But don’t hold your breath. There isn’t a laugh within a light year and I was waiting for one.

For instance, where were the hazard cards?

And why weren’t we told of the consequences up front?

Anticipation is a comedic key, but we are denied that element. Instead, Sarah screams in this room and that one. We hear a cornucopia of thumps and creaks and see interesting lighting. And while that’s all fine, no one holds Sarah down and yanks out one of her nostril hairs with tweezers while trying not to laugh. No one. Isn’t that the correct payoff?

Despite the excellent location scouting of Scott Tankel, I must give this swing-and-a-big-miss picture one and a half stars out of five.

You’d almost think they were trying to make a horror film.

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