The Open House is like the inside of a balloon before you blow it up with helium.
Screenwriters/directorial duo Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote have a good premise: after her husband dies tragically, a mother and her son (Piercey Dalton, Dylan Minnette of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why) move away to her sister’s house for a change of scenery and to shake their grief. The house is currently being sold meaning they leave for the open house during the day, and return in the evening. When strange occurrences start happening in the house at night, the chance that a potential “buyer” squatting within the house is entirely plausible.
I try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, but it’s hard to spoil a movie if nothing happens. Talk about a movie that’s all build-up with no payoff! Essentially, this grieving couple is faced with a stalker who’s threatening tactics only include moving items to different rooms and adjusting the water temperature from hot to cold. In any other movie, this would be a tactic to lure and seclude an unexpected victim, but the lame villain in The Open House doesn’t advance because they’re either too slow or they’re more content with leering at someone. Dalton and Minnette develop a convincing bond over sad circumstances, but they even seem anxious for the story to move along.
For the first while, the filmmakers earn kudos for utilizing silence to quietly build suspense around its solitude, but that can only sustain a film for so long when the resources are limited. Time eventually runs out for The Open House to do anything new or interesting.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie