Festival darling Elizabeth Olsen stars in Silent House, which opens today. Adding a new twist and gimmick to the field of micro-budget horrors, Silent House is built around the convention of being shot as one continuous take presented in real time. I've yet to see the film, but real time is a pretty cool way to watch a film when it's done correctly. The execution is tricky, but most importantly, it needs to rest upon a fantastic idea.

Reviews of Silent House are almost evenly split with the consensus being gimmicky but scary, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Of course, real time isn't for everyone as you'll see with the real time films listed below. What do you think, is real time worthwhile or a waste of time?

16 Blocks

Bruce Willis plays a burnt out New York City detective tasked with escorting Mos Def (aka Mos) to his grand jury testimonial. However, Mos's Eddie is set to testify against a crooked cop who will in turn bring down every crooked cop in the department. Willis and Mos then have 90 minutes to travel the sixteen blocks downtown with an army of cops trying to kill them. I recommend they just take 2nd Avenue. Everyone else swears by the FDR but I've had little luck on it.

Nick of Time

In Nick of Time, Johnny Depp plays a mild-mannered accountant who is ordered to assassinate a Governor in exchange for his daughter's life. We know that he's mild-mannered because his character isn't wearing earrings, face paint, or a dead crow on his head. Christopher Walken is excellent as Depp's kidnapper and tormentor. The lesson here: never get in a van with Christopher Walken.

Phone Booth

Though it's not even 90 minutes, Phone Booth feels like it takes place over a period of a hundred years. Colin Farrell plays a sleaze-weasel pinned down in a phone booth by a sniper. He's ordered to invite both his wife and his mistress to the very public scene and then choose which one lives and which one dies. One would assume there was life insurance out on the wife, so it's not exactly a difficult decision. Maybe he was supposed to be a helpful sniper?


The entirety of Tape takes place in a Michigan motel room where two friends have reunited. One is a drug dealer and the other is a rapist. Ethan Hawke's drug dealer character once dated Uma Thurman but never got around to schtooping her. The rapist however, totally got around to raping her ten years earlier. Hawke tapes a confession from Rapey McGee. Just then Uma shows up and pretends to call the police. Both men know they are screwed. One for drugs. The other for that whole rape thing.

I can understand why they didn't meet out for diner. Rape accusastions and drug busts aren't exaclty light dinner conversation.

Before Sunset

Richard Linklater's follow up to Before Sunrise sees Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reunite to play the characters who spent a night wandering around Vienna together ten years earlier. This time around, they've had time to mature and aren't as obsessed with banging one another. They spend the afternoon in Paris talking about what could have been if only they'd pressed their genitals together back then. It really is quite romantic. Also, we get it Ethan Hawke. You like plays.


This film tells four stories that all take place at the same time. Each quarter of the screen features one continuous take that follows characters as they come into contact with one another while trying to plan a film shoot. The dialogue was mostly improvised, but also shot fifteen times over the period of a few weeks. The director's favorite takes were selected for the final product. It would hurt my head to plan something like this. Then again, my version would have a lot of explosions and lasers and such.


Alfed Hitchcock's classic is most famous for being told in real time via long, continuous takes. At the time, camera loads only held eleven minutes worth of film, so Hitchcock had to plan his shots meticulously as to not create any seams in the final edit. It's a very cool technique that Brian DePalma has tried to copy several times since. Sorry. I mean "Pay homage."

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