"Have you ever thought about how, like, weird open houses are?" - Logan Wallace
Naomi Wallace loses her husband in a car accident and is left with her teenage son Logan but unfortunately no money, on the bright side her sister has a large house in the mountains that is up for sale but without current residents. Naomi naturally decides to take up the offer of some luxury accommodation without rent and with Logan heads up to get some new home comforts, on the way they run across local Martha, who has a few Roos bounding around the top paddock. The house they discover is large, has a cellar, and from the first night seems slightly unsettling. Anyways besides disappearing at 11am Sundays to allow for House Inspections the Wallaces may have come up trumps here.
The initial unease Logan feels in the house soon turns into actual fear, things are disappearing, things are being moved, and the boiler keeps turning off when Naomi is in the shower. Local dude Chris keeps turning up unexpectedly, apparently to view the house, though I get the feeling that he might have the hots for Naomi. Oh and before you can say "one flew over the cuckoo's nest" Martha proves to be completely bonkers, with a side dish of maybe dangerous? Things escalate to the climax which sees Naomi and Logan fighting for their lives.
So that's it my 2018 horror cherry has been popped, and not in a tender loving way folks, more a wham bam thank you dude. The Open House is a Netflix original movie which has seemingly been rushed to release in the normal dumbing down period of January. On the bright side if you are rocking Netflix this one is a freebie, which is about what the movie is worth to be honest. So let's get down to it, sorry it's going to be a rough ride, hang onto your linen kids.
The first thing that struck me about The Open House was that it had this feeling of being a made for television, never a good sign for horror kids, especially as the feeling was commercial TV and not cable. There's that feeling of things being pretty light weight and the movie not really prepared to go full out horror, but playing at the edges while waiting on the next advertising break, hey I know this is a stream movie but there's still not much above that 1980s television feeling going down.
I guess the second thing most people are going to be left wondering about is the plot foreshadowing that goes down but is never realised. Logan is a runner, the movie spends quite a bit of time in the first act pointing this out to painful extent, but it goes nowhere, a strand left hanging, a fuller aspect that isn't helping the plot flow. Equally there are numerous props happening that we would expect to have some impact later in the narrative, but they simply don't happen, screen cluttered comes to mind. So for those of us that like to pick up on hints and aspects that will leak into a third act - well we are out of luck, the scribes here have no idea what they are doing even in simplistic plot construction. They waste valuable runtime on worthless detours that end up in blind alleyways, which presents a cardinal cinematic sin folks; everyone involved here is wasting the viewer's time on incidentals that in no one enhance the overall view of the movie.
Let's discuss what's going down during the course of the movie's very distinct three acts, without naturally dropping spoilers all over the shop. Up front we have Mr Wallace being rundown in dubious circumstances outside the local quickie mart, I really thought that might come into play later in the movie but alas as we find with The Open House it's simply a plot device. The first actual block of the movie involves moving into the large isolated house in the mountains, meeting some of the more colourful locals, and things being moved about apparently without human intervention, doors opening, and various strange occurrences. By and large this goes unnoticed by our leads as you know situational awareness isn't high on their list of priorities.
Act two is where things really amp up on the possible supernatural front and even Logan, who remains petulant and whingy throughout, begins to notice things are not normal. Naturally Naomi, responding to some weird horror parent impulse, thinks Logan is the cause of various manifestations and naturally doesn't follow his advice of getting the hell out of dodge, that'll have fatal consequences but hey not going to spoil your "enjoyment" or otherwise of the movie. So button down the hatches we hit the third act and folks I'm here to say what we get doesn't match what the first two blocks of the movie serve up. Hello to uneven movie making, there is a general feeling for mine that this final part was made separately from what had gone before it. If you are a tad squeamish then the final act is probably not going to be a decent cinematic experience for you.
Which brings me naturally enough to the horror elements on display during the course of The Open House, and naturally these are fumbled to a large degree. Besides often repeated jump scares, and don't we all love those, there's a bit of eye horror going down, which remarkably is actually plot foreshadowed, there's a sort of stalk and stab vibe happening. Yeah not a lot of that good creepy stuff happening would have much preferred a supernatural element or three going down. At least we don't get any cats leaping at us from windows, possibly due to the local feline population having finding their way onto the menu of the local take out place.
Trying to remember if there was any eye candy for anyone, think besides Piercey Dalton hitting the shower on a few occasions nothing much to report. Sorry ladies naturally nothing for you, because hey chicks don't watch horror right? Once again movie makers simply aren't getting their demographics correct; chick power hasn't seeped into the ivory tower of the Hollywood Producers yet.
On the bright side Netflix have already hit out with their contender for worse movie of the year, and we're only really just slipping into February. Dual directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote really have no idea what particular tiger they have by the tail and deliver a movie that fails most categories of horror movie making. I simply wasn't involved in any of the characters, was yawning through the jump scares, and was left waiting on some explanation as to what we were seeing - this never got delivered for those wandering. Simply a movie that looks like a by the numbers television outing, with a couple of squirm scenes for those awake to appreciate them, there is nothing new to watch here. No recommendations folks, The Open House failed to impress me with what is on display; they should take it off the market pronto.