The Open House, a Netflix original film, premiered on the streaming service in January, bringing with it a bit of internet fuss over the allegedly terrible ending. Despite the negative things I’ve read from friends and horror fans in regard to the film, I decided to give it a fair chance and make up my own mind whether or not it’s a horror flick worth watching.
If you’re wondering, the short answer is no- it isn’t.
In fact, the “terrible” ending, which is admittedly pretty bad, comes as a bit of solace for patient viewers because it’s the only section of the film that offers any sort of event other than moping characters having bland conversations and turning on a goddamn water heater. I don’t want to shit on the film any more than I have to, and there are legitimate flaws other than this one, but it absolutely must be noted that the entertainment value of The Open House is the cinematic equivalent of watching paint dry.
The film, which was directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote from a script they wrote, follows Naomi, an unemployed and financially troubled mother, and her teenage son, Logan, as they move into a secluded mountain home after the sudden death of their paterfamilias. The home, which belongs to Naomi’s sister, is up for sale, and frequently receives open house visitors. Upon relocating, Naomi and Logan begin to experience strange occurrences, eventually realizing that they might not be alone in the house.
Logan is present for his father’s death at the beginning of the movie, but the tragic accident is handled in such a hollow manner that it’s hard to be emotionally invested in the central family conflict that Angel and Coote aim to steer their film with. Save for one specific scene when we see Naomi and Logan clash due to the opposing ways that they’re handling grief, the directing duo largely miss the opportunity to turn that conflict into something of substance. The lack of mother/son chemistry between Piercey Dalton and Dylan Minnette (Don’t Breathe) is tough to swallow as well, because the film often asks us to invest in these characters and their life.
Truthfully, it’s hard to feel attached to any single character featured in The Open House because every performance feels 90% phoned in. None of the actors are bad in the film, but each of them lacks the enthusiasm needed to uplift this snoozefest.
If it’s scares that you’re in search of, you may, too, want to continue that search elsewhere, as The Open House offers only the most cliched scare attempts. It appears that the go-to tactic of the script was to frighten audiences with cheap “turn around” jump scares, in which a character turns around to find someone they know unexpectedly behind them. You’re a horror fan. You know how frustrating that shit is. This is also the type of movie in which characters suddenly can’t light a match while in a creepy basement by themselves, nor do they make remotely wise decisions when it’s painfully obvious that they’re in immediate danger.
Truthfully, for as maligned as the ending has been so far, it’s easily the best part of the film. It may not be particularly good, but the decision to take an unexpected turn and go full-dark is something that the movie would have benefited from had the filmmakers gone all-in prior to the final fifteen minutes.
As it stands, though, this open house just isn’t worth attending.