Director: Matt Angel, Suzanne Coote
Screenplay: Matt Angel, Suzanne Coote
Starring: Dylan Minnette, Piercey Dalton, Sharif Atkins, Patricia Bethune, Aaron Abrams
Runtime: 94 Minutes
January tends to be the month where Hollywood sends films to die. Amidst the award season contenders, this is where a majority of the studio dreck is sent when the productions have either faced significant pushback in release dates, or the studio has very little faith in it making any serious money so will settle for the wasteland before the blockbusters begin rearing their heads in the later months.
2018 has been mysteriously absent of these kinds of films, although some have slipped through the cracks or been underwhelming former award contenders. But now we know where they've ended up instead; it turns out Netflix has been cooking up a storm of releases for the coming year and picking up unwanted features for distribution, including the go nowhere horror pictures that don't stand much of a chance anymore.
The Open House is absolutely one of these. Dropped into the release schedule with an up and coming young actor at the forefront in a deceptive effort to grab any residual goodwill. This is every bit as bad as some of the laziest genre efforts that have been thrown into the January dumping grounds for years.
Following a tragedy that any observant viewer could see coming a mile away, a mother and her teen son move to a relatives vacant vacation home, where eerie and unexplained forces conspire against them.
A plausibly interesting premise of having characters living in a house that is open to the general public on set days could be interesting, but instead the film wheels out every manipulative audio and visual trick in the book to try and spook an audience into believing that something sinister is happening even though absolutely nothing is going on. There's no energy to the direction or editing, the pace is flat and the characters blank canvases with sketchy backgrounds and ineffective emotional drama.
Nothing is being said regarding themes of grief, or anything even relating to the story at hand beyond scares that don't even do their job properly. The film sets up the idea of the main protagonist being shortsighted early on and then does nothing with it until the climax to momentary throw the audience off balance.
The Open House is an empty genetic exercise that does nothing interesting and doesn't even attempt to engage the audience with its storytelling. The whole thing is just boring to watch, with an even weaker than usual payoff that offers no satisfying resolution or discomfort.