The Open House

Dylan Minnette is really carving out a niche playing characters in Netflix movies and shows dealing with the aftermath of a death of someone close to him.

Browsing reviews of The Open House on IMDb and here on Letterboxd, it's been pretty much ripped to shreds. I'm not going to defend the movie but I'm also (probably) not going to rip it further to shreds.

The Open House is an almost adequate thriller/drama. The suspenseful moments are pretty heavily telegraphed and uninspired. Son hears a sound, the music swells, Mother finds something suspicious, Mother suspects the son, horror-ish hijinks ensue. It's dull all around. The drama between the son and the mother is one of the more interesting aspects of the story. But, unfortunately, when the grief and guilt come to a boiling point between the characters, it just feels forced.

The overwhelming complaints I've seen in reviews is that the ending doesn't resolve anything and how it feels like the writers were just lazy. I agree, it is totally problematic and exactly why I say the movie is only almost adequate.

The script makes the case for the creepiness of ambiguity. But it's something that was done so much better in The Strangers that The Open House just feels like a cheap imitation. Unlike The Strangers, The Open House spends the majority of its runtime misdirecting the audience into thinking there's something supernatural or conspiratorial going on.

My disappointment in the movie comes purely from the fact that for an hour and change we get this moody, Rosemary's Baby type of tone. The remote house the two main characters are staying in is on the market and the realtor is hosting open houses intermittently, during which the residents can't be present. This sets up the dull scares mentioned above but those dull scares are supplemented by bizarre characters in the town and surrounding area who are creepily interested in the house.

We're led to think that there's something sinister about the people selling the house and/or who they're selling it to. The breadcrumbs were there for a ritualistic creepy demon cult type of story, perhaps. I'm not disappointed that the movie didn't follow that specific trail, though. I'm disappointed because it didn't follow any trail at all. The movie turns into nothing; those breadcrumbs are given absolutely no explanation outside of a really clumsy The Strangers ripoff.

Even worse, major events happen during the climax of the movie. The Open House starts to become relentless and a little ruthless to its characters, but it is to absolutely zero effect. Shocking moments in the movie's final act should impact the characters, but the movie ends before the ramifications of the final act can be addressed. There is no denouement and therefore, no definable character arc for anyone at all.

Also, the movie sets up Minnette's character's contact lenses early on but the payoff is laughably stupid.