Thursday, March 01, 2018

The Open House (2018)

As I'm sure you've noticed, Netflix are going hell for leather on their Originals lately, but the past couple of horror movies I've watched from this collection have been a hit and a miss. The Ritual - which I hope to get around to reviewing soon! - was a great "friends lost in the forest" occult tale. The Open House... didn't seem to have a clear enough idea what it was.

The plot isn't the worst... Recently bereaved mother (Piercey Dalton) and son (Dylan Minnette, who you'll recognise* from Don't Breathe and 13 Reasons Why) temporarily relocate to a beautiful mountain cabin after their husband/father's tragic death. The only catch for staying there for free, is to make themselves scarce every Sunday for an open house.

Logan Wallace: Have you ever thought about how, like, weird open houses are?
Naomi Wallace: What?
Logan Wallace: I mean, you give your keys to someone you hardly know, they stand in one room and welcome in a bunch of complete strangers, and those people just roam around the house. And the realtor doesn't check the house when it's done, right? They just... turn the lights off and go?

I feel like this was basically the pitch for this film.

And it looks great. There's pretty, atmospheric woods and streams close by. Inside the house and despite its huge size, there's still a sense of claustrophobia and tension, where shots are often made teasingly wide with room for someone or something else to appear. There are tense, slow pans toward doorways, as if it's us creeping around the house, either being stalked or doing the stalking.

It sounds good too, with a suitably sting-filled and moody score. From a visuals and "general vibe" point of view, The Open House works.

But here comes the "but"... for what amounts to a home invasion movie, there's so much thrown at us (the big deal made about Logan wearing glasses! A friendly/over friendly local! The neighbour who may or may not have Alzheimer's! The plumber! The estate agents! The mysterious death of the father!) so many details and red herrings that when the reveal finally does come, it feels too small to be satisfying.

This is streaming on Netflix now (obviously. Though I'd recommend The Ritual more).

*Does anyone else have that thing where you can't rest until you remember where you recognise an actor from? I have it SO bad and it's a curse!

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