The Open House Review

The Open House is a 2018 horror film about a teenager and his mother who find themselves besieged by threatening forces when they move into a new house.

Perhaps it’s unfair to blame a film for being conventional, especially a horror movie, the genre so aggressively standardized it feels sort of wrong to expect anything else. That’s not to say Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote‘s latest The Open House deserves a pass, as this is exceptionally generic, filling in the lines as most others do, offering up its perfunctory chills and jump scares with almost blind devotion to the stale formula.  

After the untimely and gruesome death of her husband Brian (Aaron Abrams), Naomi (Piercey Dalton) is struggling to make ends meet, so she and her teenage son Logan (Dylan Minnette) take an offer from her sister to stay in a lavish mountain home, one that is still on the market. The only caveat is, they have to be out of the house when the realtors show it. Making their way up to the isolated town, things right away seem off, including a shadowy man in the road, a quirky neighbor Martha (Patricia Bethune), who seems one side short of dementia, and Chris (Sharif Atkins), the local store clerk with some interest in Naomi. Things get really weird though after the open house showings, where the house seems to become possessed, and it seems someone or some thing is stalking them. 

Angel and Coote don’t waste much time in establishing the tone, with the film right from the start ticking off boxes the genre demands. Creepy music and ceaseless jumps scares become the norm as the story shifts from Logan’s dreams of being an Olympic runner to getting a night’s sleep in a house full of eerie noises and things that go bump in the night. This is a movie that makes a point to have Logan question the process of Open Houses, that of letting strangers in and not checking to see if they all leave, simply to instill the idea that this is a possibility, and then assembles a host of ABC scenarios that prop it up. From having to go down to the basement to long slow motion camera crawls along a hall to an open darkened door to a score so trite it’s almost laughable, this is textbook horror 101.

More confounding is the seemingly random assortment of imagery and closeups that never have much of a payoff, the film more interested in creating a mood rather than building authentic tension. It wants to succeed only on setup, believing that the action of a horror movie will somehow make more of an impression than the coherency of the story. At one point, Naomi lets an interested buyer into the house and then goes off to her room without staying with them and comes back later wondering if they left or not. Who does that? It’s all nonsensical and padded with far too many tropes to give it any significance. Genuine horror fans will scoff and anyone else looking for some frights will surely be disappointed.

The Open House Review

Movie description: THE OPEN HOUSE IS A 2018 HORROR FILM ABOUT A TEENAGER AND HIS MOTHER WHO FIND THEMSELVES BESIEGED BY THREATENING FORCES WHEN THEY MOVE INTO A NEW HOUSE.

Director(s): Matt Angel, Suzanne Coote

Actor(s): Dylan Minnette, Piercey Dalton, Patricia Bethune

Genre: Horror

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