DVD reviews: Submarine | The Silent House
SUBMARINE is the kind of movie that's all too rare in Britain, one made with talent and passion and a taste for experimentation that never gets in the way of the beating heart of the story. It also has the confidence to be its own thing without feeling the need to chase some mythical mainstream audience or stringently following templates set by other successful alternative films. Set in Swansea in the mid-1980s, it's the story of Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), an awkward 15-year-old on a double mission to lose his virginity to his no-nonsense classmate, Jordana (Yasmin Paige) and prevent his parents' marriage imploding. Armed with a rarefied sensibility and a good heart, but frequently lacking the conviction to stand up for himself or face up to his own failings, Oliver makes for an endearing but not always likeable hero, and Ayoade – hitherto best known as Moss from the The IT Crowd – imbues him with a melancholic streak that allows the film to explore the way regret can haunt us throughout our lives. Not that it's a downer, but it is truthful in a way that a lot of films, particularly films about teenagers, never manage and Ayoade compliments this by deploying a dazzling array of film-making techniques to plug us into the collage-like nature of his protagonist's teen brain while at the same time gently mocking genre conventions.
The Silent House
PLAYING with genre conventions is at the heart of The Silent House, a film which, like Rope and Russian Ark before it, attempts to tell a story in a single, continuous, unedited take – an intriguing idea that eliminates traditional film grammar and forces film-makers to be more creative. Unfortunately it only works if it serves the story and, sadly, that's not the case here. Uruguayan director Gustavo Hernndez has applied it to a horror premise that requires more traditional trickery to hide its flaws, though it does start off working quite well. Stranding a young woman in a house that she quickly becomes convinced is under siege, it's an innovative, micro-budgeted addition to the home invasion genre. Alas, an avalanche of problems ensue when Hernandez serves up his idiotic rug-pulling reveal, something that promptly undermines everything we've been party to thus far by turning the film into a sub-Hollywood multiple-personality thriller.
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