REVIEW: The Open House (2018)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of The Open House – A Netflix Original Film.

A couple of months ago, I had my first genuinely effective nightmare in my adult life. In it, I was watching television when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone standing in the doorway. It wasn’t just anyone. It was a figure that seemed to have been constructed from different images from Stephen King adaptations. Imagine something of a mix between the leper from Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of IT and the moonlight man from Gerald’s Game.

In the nightmare, I was unable to move as this figure kept moving towards me ever so slowly. Needless to say, home invasion movies have a strong effect on me. A home invasion is one of my biggest fears. Therefore, as you might imagine, The Open House was a horror film I had on my radar.

The Open House, written and directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote, has a pretty neat premise that is certain to intrigue people scanning Netflix late at night for something to watch. A home invasion movie with a family being terrorized by someone after an open house-event set up by a real estate agent lets the wrong person into the house. Unfortunately, the premise is pretty much the only thing I liked about the film.

First of all, I was disappointed with how cliche-ridden I found this film to be. You’ve seen so many films like The Open House before, and it has been done so much better previously. In fact, I thought that it seemed like the film actually directly lifted shots from other films and stuffed them into this one in an attempt to imbue the final product with familiarities from cult-favorite home invasion horror film The Strangers.

To me, it came off as the product of a sloppy copycat. This film goes for that same sense of effective pointlessness that The Strangers managed to creep audiences out with, but it just doesn’t work. Where The Strangers was horrifyingly tense and suspenseful with its silent reveal of the killers in the background of extremely revealing wide shots, the scares in The Open House are tiring, forced, and decidedly unmoving. So unmoving, in fact, that the film did not properly hold my attention. The thing is that nothing interesting really happens for the majority of the film. It is all set-up for an underwhelming conclusion.

The film also just wastes Dylan Minnette who, just last year, was introduced to audiences as the male lead in Netflix’s thought-provoking show 13 Reasons Why. Minnette’s inclusion will definitely get eyes on the film, but the film doesn’t do him any favors. Speaking of eyes, the one image that was remotely effective for me was seeing Minnette fumble for his contact lenses in an extreme close-up of his eyes.

The Open House wears its inspirations proudly, but the filmmakers are, ultimately, incapable of infusing the film with the necessary amount of tension for a home invasion horror movie. In spite of the film’s promising premise and the capable leading man, The Open House is a disappointing missed opportunity.

3.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen

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