Review: The Open House (2018)

“The quiet out here can get real loud. Buh-bye now.”

*This review may contain spoilers (but who really cares)*

The Open House is a Netflix original “horror” film written and directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote. The film stars Dylan Minnette (Don’t Breathe, 13 Reasons why) and Piercey Dalton. When his father is killed after being hit by a car, Logan (Minnette) and his mother, Naomi (Dalton) move into his aunt’s mountain mansion, where they find themselves besieged by strange and unknown forces.

Right off the bat, I immediately want this film to change the title to simply “Open House”. As Justin Timberlake brilliantly suggests in The Social Network, “It’s cleaner”. This film opens with a scene of Logan and his father going to the grocery store to pick up milk and eggs. Logan’s mother specifically asks her husband not to forget the milk, one of only two things he needed to remember. After he forgets to purchase the milk, Logan’s father is hit by a car. You’re instantly thinking who did this and why, but you never find out and you are left to assume it’s because he forgot the milk. Before I go any further, it’s worth pointing out that nothing in this movie makes sense and it is possibly the worst movie I have seen this year, if not this decade. I spent most of my time laughing at how incredibly bad this movie is, praying for it to end and looking out my patio window to the squirrel that was collecting nuts in my garden.

The dialogue in this movie goes absolutely nowhere, with no real plot or character development whatsoever. The conversations are so unnatural that I felt a genuine sense of disbelief that not one member of the cast or crew stepped in to save the scenes. There is a line spoken by Naomi at her husband’s wake that goes something like this: “I can’t believe it, he is dead.” I’m paraphrasing here, because I couldn’t hear the wooden acting over the sound of my boredom. But wait, the film has only just begun! A line spoken by, what is supposed to be, an eerie and mysterious neighbor, sounded so outrageous and so stilted, it had me reaching for the remote to see how long was left on the clock. We we’re only 20 minutes in when I heard this: “I’m sorry to hear about your husband, how gruesome”, about Naomi’s recently murdered husband that her son had just witnessed. Nice work neighbor, just what they wanted to hear. Now this neighbor pops up on several occasions throughout the film to try and act as the sinister, edgy character that cements you in a sense of unease, but it turns out it is just a lonely old lady with dementia. That’s right, they went there. This poor old lady has this awful, very real condition and that is the end of her character bio.

Dalton is doing an acceptable job for the majority of this film and I’ve seen Minnette’s great acting capabilities in his other projects, so why is Logan so incredibly dull in this movie? The film tries to make us sympathise with these characters every chance it gets, with numerous long, depressing scenes of the two moping around the screen, for no reason at all but to sell the sadness. So many scenes could and should be cut from this film and it would still be the same film, still not making any sense but at least it would be less depressing. The first time Logan enters the enormous home, we follow him wondering around the entire house, with pointless long shots and tense music to try and convey that something is wrong here, but nothing on screen suggests that it is! Please, don’t get me started on the long shots. Or any of the shots for that matter. For the love of God, why is there so many long shots in this move?! 75% of The Open House is tension building using long shots and music, but it either leads to a senseless jump scare or nothing at all. The overall film doesn’t look particularly bad, but the cinematographer keeps trying multiple types of shots to give the impression this film is more important than it is. One scene uses unsettling, building music and a dolly zoom on a shot where literally nothing is happening, it is just Logan stood outside looking at a forest. None of the scares hit the mark, but worst of all, none of them make any sense.

Let’s jump forward to the end of this movie because, unfortunately, I didn’t have that luxury. The Open House spends 94 minutes dangling multiple carrots in front of the audience, only to explain nothing of what we have just sat through. There are scenes in this movie that are completely irrelevant: The mysterious boots entering the home, the scared estate agent running out the house, the family photo in the trash. None of this is explained. There are so many loose ends to the point that we leave this movie knowing less than when we started it. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be? Maybe it’s artistic and we’re not supposed to know who or what the main antagonist of The Open House is? It’s none of this, it is just shit.

The Open House is an atrocious mess of a movie. To the creators of this movie, please go back to your 9 to 5 jobs. To the “friend” who recommended I watch this, we can no longer be friends. And to Netflix for allowing this to still be streamed two years on, shame on you. I was going to give this a 2/10, because you get to see Naomi in the shower a couple of times and she is undoubtedly attractive, but then Logan barges in on her twice and it shook me from this evil bewitchment. I give The Open House my first 1/10. Like any good theme park, anyone who survives the entirety of this roller coaster ride without throwing up deserves a medal.

If you liked this review, please comment or share this post for others. If you have any similar or, even better, conflicting opinions of The Open House, please comment to open a healthy debate.

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