“Mom, did you ever think about how scary an open house is? You give keys to strangers and they can wonder around as they please… who can tell what they leave here once they’re gone?”
With this sentence, Logan (Dylan Minnette) expresses to his mother Naomi (Piercey Dalton) his concerns about moving to a new house, in a new town filled with creepy residents, after his dad died in a car accident.
Soon enough, the two protagonists find themselves besieged by threatening forces… but are they?
What might seem a simple but effective premise gets almost immediately developed into a dull and uneventful execution in The Open House. In fact, the quote I started my review with can be described as the filmmakers’ attempt to tell the audience what they should be scared of… since the movie itself manages to be surprisingly unscary and mundane.
Despite having people wondering in your home uninvited is anxiety-inducing material, in The Open House that seems to be played in a quirky and child-friendly way as opposed to exploring the threatening feeling that could rise from it.
Partially, this lack of tension and uneasiness is due to the performances: Dalton is good enough in the movie, but Dylan Minnette gives a whiny and unconvincing performance that really scales The Open House down and ruins any attempt at building tension. Once again, with better direction and stronger acting, this feeling of having people nosing around your private space would have been explored in a much more eerie way.
Yet, the film suffers from pacing and tone issues. In this regard, the first thirty minutes provide viewers with a home-invasion type of vibe; the second act is played as a psychological horror; finally, the last part of the movie is an amalgamation of torture, whodunnit and surreal horror… which left me confused about the filmmakers’ intention with this movie.
However, The Open House is a competently directed horror flick: camera-work and soundtrack are the two aspects that somewhat give a sense of dread and urgency to the story. The cinematography relies on nice shot compositions and gives an uncomfortable vibe in certain sequences.
Despite my little rant on the mismatched tones, I must admit I was enthralled during the second act, mostly because I was trying to figure out the mystery and what the plot twist would have been…
Minor spoilers in the next paragraph: stop reading or skip to my final grade if you plan to watch this film!!!
The thing is that there’s no plot twist! Obviously, I’m not going to give away the ending in its full details, but the movie tricks you throughout teasing you with a possible mind-blowing twist that will never come. Thus, The Open House features the most unsatisfying grand finale in 2018 so far, in my opinion.
Oh, welcome back for the final grade!
In conclusion, I found The Open House a rather tedious attempt to replicate the atmosphere of movies like We Are Still Here (2015, awesome 70s throwback), but ending up being nothing more than a better version of Lake Alice!
The Open House 3.5/10
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