19th January 2018
A teenager (Dylan Minnette) and his mother (Piercey Dalton) find themselves besieged by threatening forces when they move into a new house.
In 2017, streaming giant Netflix reportedly spent a staggering $7 billion on original content. While this seems an eye-watering amount, it produced such solid releases as the Stephen King adaptation Gerald’s Game, the moody slow burner I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives in the House and the terrific and touching Before I Wake. Largely due to the success of their orignal productions, Netflix decided to earmark an additional $1 billion to original content production for 2018 – but if The Open House is the kind of movie they’re investing in, they shouldn’t have bothered.
After the death of her husband, Naomi (Piercey Dalton) takes her sister up on the offer of temporarily moving with her son Logan (Dylan Minnette, Don’t Breathe and Goosebumps) to her quiet mountain home until it sells. After an open house event, strange occurrences begin around the home; objects are moved, the hot water shuts off every time showers are taken, eerie phone calls are received where nobody speaks. As the actions become more life-threatening, Naomi and Logan must find the root of the troubles before it’s too late.
The Open House’s plot is straightforward and unoriginal enough, but it’s the sheer number of red herrings which make it an infuriating watch. In fact, there are so many false flags in The Open House that it feels fraudulent to even call this a coherent film. It wouldn’t be so bad if there were resolutions or explanations to the plethora of dead-end plot points, but first-time feature screenwriters Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote never wrap up any of the potential story avenues, leaving a frustratingly vague picture which is thoroughly undeserving of its ambiguity.
Lead actor Dylan Minette is completely unconvincing as the fatherless teen and looks like he signed the dotted line simply for the paycheck (and who could blame him?), while Piercey Dalton is passable as the grieving wife. Other than the mother and son, there’s only two other characters of note – Martha, the odd neighbour and Chris, the friendly shop worker from town. But much like the various plot points touched upon above, their character arcs seem utterly unimportant as their appearance in the film is disregarded by the time the credits roll.
In a film of so many faults, The Open House does have one rather bizarre positive going for it. In one sequence, the assailant uses an ingenious method to slow down Dylan, who is an aspiring runner, from escaping or fetching help. Seriously, it takes a lot to find anything good about this one.
Ultimately, The Open House is an exceptionally bland and unsatisfying thriller containing zero thrills and even fewer narrative resolutions. It’s not often that Netflix produces an irredeemable dud but unfortunately, they have begun 2018 with one.
Let’s hope that $8 billion is given a better home in the next 12 months.
Clever way to slow down a runner
Doesn't resolve any of the many raised plot points
Cast looks bored