I don’t get to watch a lot of movies these days so I am thankful for my #Netflix subscription which at least gives me fresh selections of original films on a regular basis. I watched The Open House because it seemed to have a really interesting, if not entirely original concept and it featured Dylan Minnette, one of the talented young actors I keep a look out for. I liked the last part but wasn’t so crazy about the first part of the movie.
Synopsis: After losing his dad to a car accident, Logan (Dylan Minnette) and his mom Naomi (Piercey Dalton) temporarily move to his rich aunt’s mountain home which they have put up for sale. While the mother and son can stay at the house rent free for the rest of the week, one day is always set for an Open House where potential buyers get free run of the house. While Logan suspects something weird is happening, they don’t get to confirm the danger before it is upon them.
To be honest, the first hour of The Open House just about put me to sleep. I have no qualms about building up a story but using an entire hour just to establish a family’s financial handicap and a lukewarm attempt at conflict between Naomi and Logan seemed excessive, since the filmmakers did not firmly establish Logan’s issues against his mom before a single outburst that came out of nowhere.
It was also depressing to see Naomi as she spent the entire time moping and not really doing anything to ease their financial situation. She could have applied for any job, even temporary while at the mountain home and tried to get back on her feet while not paying rent. And I really didn’t get the need for the shower scenes. Also, I almost got a headache about how both characters took their security in the middle of the woods too lightly, especially Naomi — opening doors and going down in the middle of the night without arming oneself with anything, going down to a pitch dark basement wrapped only in a towel and even barefoot — I really didn’t get these at all.
What I did get was the attempt to mislead the audience about whether or not this was a paranormal thriller or a home invasion suspense. It was pretty smart for writer/directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote. However, the lengthy set up really did not help sustain the audience’s interest. I wouldn’t be surprised if some viewers fast forwarded the movie to the last thirty minutes if only to get ahead.
The film does pick up in its last 20 minutes or so. There was a sufficient amount of violence and suspense to keep audiences on their toes and I was particularly grossed out with the scene where the culprit gouged out Logan’s contacts. Well, frankly, anything involving eye poking, gouging or whatnot really turns my stomach. I also liked that the reveal really had nothing to do with the setup which made it a good surprise.
All in all, The Open House was a passable horror. Not particularly good or bad. Just passable. The problem was that it focused too much on the buildup but the reveal of the culprit did not really pay off. The script also turned the rest of the cast into cardboard characters that viewers have seen countless times before. Of its 1 hour and 34 minute run, only 20 minutes really held my interest and I’m not sure if that’s enough to set this film apart from the rest in its genre.