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Film Review – The Open House (2018)

In its continued attempt to flesh out its library of films and entertain subscribers, Netflix has released another original thriller, The Open House.  With a low-budget and a recognizable lead, Netflix hopes that it has a sleeper hit on its hands that adds to the home invasion sub-genre.  The following review will be spoiler free.

The Open House

Synopsis

Directed By: Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote

Written By: Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote

Starring: Dylan Minnette, Piercy Dalton, Sharif Atkins, Patricia Bethune, and Aaron Abrams

Following the tragic death of his father, Logan (Minnette) and his mother Naomi (Dalton) are in serious financial trouble.  Naomi is unable to pay the rent for their home, forcing the two to look elsewhere for living arrangements.  Thankfully, Naomi’s sister steps in to help the two, offering to let them stay in her mountain home that is currently on the market until the realtor finds a buyer.

As part of the deal, Logan and Naomi must leave the house on Sundays to allow for the open house to run without a hitch.  However, after the first open house occurs, the two begin to feel unnerved by strange noises and occurrences in the house — leaving them to believe that someone involved with the open house never left.

Background

The Open House follows the same trend that has been used time and time again for low-budget horror and thriller films.

In order to market a film with such a low-budget, you need one recognizable face to get audiences intrigued.  In this case, that individual would be Dylan Minnette who is fresh off his starring role in 13 Reasons Why (Check!).  However, with funds lacking, the rest of the movie must be composed of no-name actors that can work cheaply.  Minnette’s co-star, Piercey Dalton, has few acting credits — all of which are in smaller roles and projects (Check!).

The film’s plot also needs to center around a confined location — enter a remote mountain home (again, Check!).

After a quick tally, The Open House checks off all the required elements of a low-budget horror film.  Naturally, with such a workmanlike attitude to its framework, The Open House requires the highest level of craftiness in its execution.  Films like Don’t Breathe (which also stars Dylan Minnette oddly enough) have the same particulars but move pieces around to keep an element of surprise and auteurmanship.  In a bizarre way, great low-budget films become more inventive due to their constraints.  Smaller movies that play it straight (i.e. try to make a standard film) become lost over time.

Our Characters are Literally and Figuratively Stranded

Although some other characters come into the picture from time to time, the story predominantly circles around Dylan Minnette and Piercey Dalton as they become increasingly spooked by some unknown force.  This setup is not inherently an issue, but the execution of the setup is a major problem.

In limited isolation, it’s up to these two characters to make the film intriguing and intense.  However, they’re written so blandly you never feel an attachment.  Both Minnette and Dalton are very one-note.  Dalton walks around in a haze, doing nothing to get her and her son in a better financial situation.  Meanwhile, Minnette is constantly aloof.  Even worse, you never feel the connection between these two — furthering the feeling of complete and utter apathy.  In all seriousness, a piece of white bread has more personality than these two put together.

That’s not to say that these two aren’t qualified actors.  In fact, we’ve seen Minnette perform admirably many times before.  But, whether it was the direction, the writing, or a chemistry issue, nothing about these performances envelops you in this world.  The Open House mixes sorrow and loss with a steady state of disinterest and attempts to pass it off as layered storytelling.

The Plot is Not Worth its 94-Minute Runtime

What makes those characters even more unbearable is the fact that they are forced to merely roam aimlessly around the mountain house until the plot kicks in with 15 minutes left in the film.

The Open House fails to wring out ingenuity from its enclosed location.  In a sense of fear, characters are relegated to checking the same areas of the house with zero consequence.  The story construction attempts to appear Hitchcockian in that makes the audience aware of an impending doom without the characters becoming privy to that knowledge until later in the film.  However, it becomes clear that the plot is merely delaying the disclosure of information to keep the film from finishing in under an hour.

The Open House tries to create tension out of these moments by using a score that drones in the background as characters inch towards some object or opening.  But, these moments often build to nothing or end in a fake-out jump scare.  You get the sense that the movie is almost toying with you — subjecting you to nothingness as it meanders through lazy attempts at horror.  The Open House borders on annoying as it consistently subjects its viewers to the same routine over and over again.  Like the inherent elements of the film, The Open House works like a bare-bones thriller.  It follows the same pattern, leaving zero impact.

The Open House Does Not Care About Logic

The Open House leaps from frustrating to infuriating as its rationale is destroyed in order for its boring plot to occur.  Not only are our characters boring, they’re really dumb.  For the plot to work, characters change from being completely skeptical of the situation to accepting it in an instant.  Seriously.

There’s a reason most horror/thriller films take place in the past: it’s so that the film doesn’t have to make excuses for why characters’ phones don’t work (or why any other piece of technology doesn’t work for that matter).  News flash, The Open House — you can still call 911 if a phone doesn’t have a sim card in it.  Issues such as this one are all over this movie.  Unlike bigger movies where viewers can be distracted from similar problems, The Open House has nothing to divert your attention, leaving you to pick out everything wrong with each scene like you’re a member of CinemaSins.

Even worse, the integrity of the entire situation falls apart when you think of one simple question: why don’t they just leave the house?  A spoiler heavy discussion is a better place to explain specifics for this point.  However, as you watch The Open House, you quickly realize that nothing ties the two main characters to their location, meaning that the entire endeavor is avoidable.

Your anger continues to build and build with The Open House.  But, it’s the ending that puts the movie over the top, sending your blood pressure into an all-out frenzy.  In an attempt to tie-in with the idea that anyone can walk into your home during an open house, the film merely slaps you in the face with absurd symbolism that never gets close to its desired amount of resonance.

Final Thoughts

A bottom-of-the-barrel thriller, The Open House is never tense as it fails to conjure a single scare or anxious moment.  Dylan Minnette and Piercey Dalton are trying their best to provide solid performances.  But, the script forces them to appear dull and unlikable — keeping you from ever attaching to them.  The movie wastes time to make it to feature-length, extending scenes that have no payoff.

Ultimately, The Open House is an unbelievably bland movie that culminates to one of the most shameless endings in recent memory.  If you’re looking for Netflix programming with Dylan Minnette as the star, check out 13 Reasons Why instead.

Grade: F


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Nick Kush

A current young professional, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to provide insightful film analysis that is meant to educate and entertain. Nick is also a member of the Internet Film Critics Society. You can follow Nick at the official MovieBabble Twitter account @MovieBabble_

39 Responses

  1. Mimi Maniot says:

    Utter waste of time; dreadful. A 10 year old could have done better.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So what was the theme? I didn’t get it.

  3. Moh says:

    Totally waste of time, no logic, all the people killed, but who did? Why? No body know ……. the worst I have ever watched

  4. Anonymous says:

    I watched this film last night as I like the actor Dylan, however I have spent the last 30 mins trying to find a review that is wholesome enought to explain what it was atually supposed to be about. So I now understand that the open house day bought in an unsavoury charactor who decided not to leave. Now, why did this character decide that he wanted to torture and kill them, it wasn’t their house as he would of known as he spent some time moving their stuff around and watching them, it happpened so I try not to dwell. Then there was the scenes that went from daytime then suddenly led to night within a few minutes and the running through the woods in the middle of the night then suddenly turned to daytime and we are led to believe the murdered followed all this time then killed him – why, why!! maybe just because he could. There was nothing new in the scary moments mostly done by The great Alfred Hitchcock and lets face it as soon as the killer left the knife beside the mum you knew somehow the son was going to “accidently” stab her! The most annoying part is not being left with a sense of knowing who or why, I think that the police arriving back in the morning as promised fand finding the mess may of helped. I look forward to more stuff from Dylan. (Oh and by the way I’ve seen a lot of really, really bad films i.e. Santa’s dog! so this one is far from terrible)

    • Nick Kush says:

      Yeah it’s unbelievably frustrating that everything is so nebulous. Its on purpose for some attempt to become somewhat artistic but it failed miserably!

  5. jmm2013 says:

    Great blog! Also, thanks for liking my recent post.

  6. Ruth Smith says:

    Who was the intruder???? Did I miss something? Couldn’t believe it when it ended and had to come on here to see what it was all about. Total rubbish and probably the worst film I have ever seen.

  7. susan keshavarz says:

    it was just terrible!!!

  8. susan keshavarz says:

    the open house was one of the worst horror film I’ve ever watched! a complete waste of time!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I rank this movie right up there with “I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In This House”. Complete waste of time and film!!!!

  10. Question #1: Why are basements never wired for overhead lighting in stupid movies such as this? It’s like watching csi and all I can think is, “turn on the freaking lights!”
    Question #2: Who did it? At first, I thought crazy Martha…. But then, well…she was coming from wrong direction… They made Chris seem all weird but then, nope, not him either…who did it???

    • Nick Kush says:

      Whenever the lights turn don’t turn on in horror movies, it feels so cheap. Do something different!

      As for the killer, they purposely keep it ambiguous. It’s suppose to go along with the theme that anyone can come into your house during an open house so they made it so that the killer could be anyone. I hate that ending with a passion lolol

    • It would appear that the writers missed the class on how to set the conditions for willing suspension of disbelief.

  11. Rob Rehburg says:

    Ended up being a complete waste of time. That plot had more holes than Swiss cheese and more loose ends than Lindsay Lohan’s mugshot… Oh, wait. Those were split ends. ?

  12. Brit says:

    The movie started out interesting but the end was bullshit , half the movie was bad.

  13. katthemovies says:

    I hated this movie, at least it’s accurately titled because it has about the same entertainment value as an open house. Please do a follow up on about the deeper symbolic meaning behind the “finger” scene or how the contacts scene was cinema at its finest. In all seriousness nice well-written review, and congrats on the new writers who are doing a fine job.

    • Nick Kush says:

      Thanks so much! That actually might make for a funny satire article ?.

      Appreciate the kind words! I’m very proud of my growing staff ?

  14. Dan says:

    Oh dear! It sounds terrible. A friend of mine recently told me to avoid it and it looks like he was right!!

    • Nick Kush says:

      You’re friend is absolutely right! It’s not “funny bad,” it’s just boring and basically unwatchable lol

  15. readergal91 says:

    Oh if I have read your review before watching it today then I would have been spared.
    I agree with your review. And I was laughing at the part of you pointing out that they can still call 911 without the SIM card. My exact thought when I saw that scene!
    Awesome review!

  16. Thanks for the warning!

  17. This certainly will now be put in my queue for watching because of how bad you said it was. Whenever people give Fs I am always interested to understand the reasoning and hopefully get some laughs out of the film. It’s always a marvel to see bad horror films so this might just be a suitable watch for a Friday night.

    • Nick Kush says:

      I would normally say go for it but The Open House is anything but “funny bad” so might just get bored????

  18. raistlin0903 says:

    Well….that’s pretty clear after reading this: avoid at all costs lol ????

  19. Nick Kush says:

    Want to write for MovieBabble? Check out this link in your browser to get started: https://moviebabblereviews.com/join-moviebabble/

    Be sure to check out the MovieBabble Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/MovieBabble

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