Monday, April 2, 2018

All Are Welcome

The Open House is probably not a movie I'd think to check out on my own, but when my Feminine Critique cohostess sold it to me as "It's good and has a frustrating ending," I find myself simply unable to resist.

Let's go. 

Quick Plot: High school senior Logan Wallace is just seconds away from running an Olympic-worthy mile. Thought his parents are experiencing some financial problems, life seems pleasant enough (unless I'm just an easy mark for the glory of breakfast-for-dinner).

Upon getting some milk and eggs for said glorious feast, Logan watches his father fatally get hit by a car. With no savings, his mom Naomi loads Logan in the car to spend some recovery time at her sister's secluded mountain home. 

With tensions already high, Naomi suspects Logan of misbehaving in bratty teenage ways. His phone goes missing. The water heater is constantly turned off. Items seem to be moved around. Logan is convinced there's something amiss, possibly stemming from the titular Sunday open houses that occur every weekend as his aunt attempts to sell the place. Depressed and tired, Naomi disagrees. 

It's difficult to discuss The Open House in too much detail without giving away its latter half. Before I delve into spoiler territory, I'll give it a mild recommend for those looking for a solid character-based thriller. The cast (primarily Dylan Minnette of Don't Breathe and Piercey Dalton) do a strong job of creating a believably complicated mother/son duo in grief, and the tension works quite a point.

And thusly do the SPOILERS begin.

So, at a certain point, writer/directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote reveal that Logan was indeed right: someone has snuck into their home during an open house event, and that someone has an especially sadistic murderous side. Down goes the slightly suspicious Chris, a friendly neighbor with an unconsummated crush on Naomi, the latter who gets to have every one of her fingers broken before accidentally walking into Logan's knife (aka, that thing that worked well in The Descent but now annoys me when it happens in four out of five mean-spirited genre films). 

Logan suffers what might be the worst fate. After being knocked out, he's covered in cold water and left in the cold mountain air, waking up a few hours later in a frozen, barely mobile state. Our once future Olympian can barely move his legs, much less outrun a madman who takes things one step further by removing his contacts and essentially blinding the young man. Just when he thinks he's safe and we find some triumph in his resilience, he celebrates by meeting the wrong end of the knife.


The Open House isn't quite as mean as something like Eden Lake, but that's just because the violence isn't quite as visceral. It's hard to argue with the production, which is solid all around, but it's just one of those cases where I find myself feeling like I've watched something designed solely to make its audience feel bad. We follow this once-happy family destroyed by an accidental death, struggle through finding a way to move forward from there, and then, through no fault of their own, being sadistically tortured and slain by a mysterious stranger who we as the audience don't even get to see. 

What's the point?

High Points
Granted, it would have been an entirely different genre (which might not have been a bad thing), but the conflict between Naomi and Logan is a fascinating and well-done story of grieving the death of a loved one could have made for a fine film in itself

Low Points
Aforementioned "let's build interesting characters and then slaughter them mercilessly" thing

Lessons Learned
Burgess Meredith may have terrified the visually challenged regarding the fragility of glasses, but The Open House confirms my own spectacle-wearing fears that contacts are far from murderous psychoproof

Mountain air will really mess with your athletic breathing

For the love of all things streaming, how many times must I say that when driving in a movie that's CLEARLY genre-based, KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE F*CKING ROAD

Argh. I liked a lot of what The Open House did, but it didn't leave me feeling anything overly positive. I certainly see potential in its cast and creative crew, but sitting through a family drama that ends in cruel violence is a hard ride to recommend. Those especially curious can watch via Netflix streaming. 


  1. Just now watched Open House and... hmmm...
    It really felt like it might have originally been a script about a family coping with tragedy, but then Lifetime or whoever turned their nose up at it and it got a fresh re-write that crossed it with some not-so-fresh home invasion thing.
    It's implied at the end that the killer is just randomly targeting houses advertising 'open house'... but then there's that eerie spot in the basement that looks collapsed/caved in, that is right where he's hiding with the mom... suggesting some significance to that spot.
    I dunno... I think I was grasping at air to try to make more sense of this randomness.
    I agree it might well have been a better movie without the addition of the unseen killer.

    1. Yeah, almost as if it was a family drama but the filmmakers guessed it would sell better if they threw in some torture.