Netflix’s thriller/horror flick The Open House stars Dylan Minnette (13 Reasons Why) as Logan, and Piercey Dalton (Fruitcake) as his mother, Naomi. After the devastating and unexpected loss of his father, the two are unable to pay the rent on their home and move into a relative’s empty vacation home. It’s for sale, but the two only need to leave the house for a few hours on Sundays for the open house.
Logan and his mother stop at a store to buy supplies on their way to their new home. There they are greeted by Martha (Patricia Bethune), their new neighbor who knows all about their lives and their tragedy. She’s proper small town creepy for a movie like this and leaves Logan feeling uneasy. She even calls the vacation home as soon as the duo walk into the house. TEXTBOOK HORROR CHARACTER.
They also meet Chris (Sharif Atkins) while shopping to kill time during an open house. He flirts with Naomi, which angers Logan. He also seems to pop up at odd and coincidental times throughout the movie. TEXTBOOK HORROR CHARACTER.
The vacation home is in the middle of nowhere and is almost comically opulent, except for the unfinished basement. It sprawls and turns endlessly like the catacombs under Paris, but the upstairs is a House Hunters wet dream. Logan’s exploration uncovers what looks like a small cave, which is strange occurrence number one. From there, the movie strays from the path of most horror movies involving poor people gaining access to a seemingly perfect home that turns out to be a nightmare. There is no succession of scares or incidents.
Directors and writers Matt Angel (Legends of Tomorrow) and Suzanne Coote have a specific idea concerning how they think a horror film should look, with wide shots to alert the viewer to keep their eyes open, long tracking shots of descending basement stairs or investigating noises, and close-ups before a jump scare. There’s even a butt shot during a shower scene for no reason whatsoever.
Alas, a few creepy instances coupled with grief doesn’t exactly make for compelling horror. Forty-three minutes in and nothing outright terrible has even happened in the house — it’s a cluster of odd interactions, angst, and cliches telegraphed by repetition of a song, ominous music, and those damn close ups.
When the ending finally arrives, it moves at roughly ten times the speed of anything else in the movie.
The Open House isn’t anything new or different. It’s clear that Angel and Coote saw The Strangers and decided to make their own version of it, removing the claustrophobia, intensity, and emotion. It is a waste of the talent involved and the freedom that comes with making movies for a streaming service.