Director: Matt Angel, Suzanne Coote
Cast: Dylan Minnette, Piercey Dalton, Patricia Bethune, Sharif Atkins
Watch The Open House online in the UK: Netflix UK
Horror movies are popular for first time filmmakers for many reasons. One is that the genre is well suited to low budgets; in many of the best horrors, a little goes a long way. Another reason may be that horror, particularly via sub-genres like the slasher or home invasion thriller, is more prone to template-based filmmaking than most other genres. If you’re just looking to show that you can write and direct something, anything, it’s ostensibly easier to produce a horror movie that hits expected genre beats than it is to, say, write a comedy that actually makes people laugh.
Bringing to the screen a horror movie that simply resembles a horror movie seems to have been the sole mission statement behind The Open House, the feature debut of directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote. It’s a Netflix Original without an ounce of originality.
Following the sudden death of the family patriarch, who left them with significant debts, a teenager, Logan (13 Reasons Why’s Dylan Minnette), and his mother, Naomi (Piercey Dalton), temporarily move into her sister’s isolated mountain home as a means to get away from various pressures and cope with their grief. The catch is that the house is on the market, so the pair must leave the place every so often, while strangers have a perusal of the property. Unfortunately for the pair, there’s the suggested presence of someone, or something, staying around the house long after the estate agent has wrapped up, as they are besieged by an unseen threat.
It’s an unseen threat, but the scares are all too familiar: missing mobile phones; flashes of silhouettes in the middle of the night; characters turning round to be surprised by the presence of a strange neighbour. You can, of course, rise above clichés through creative execution, but virtually every moment of The Open House feels soulless. It’s like a robot directed the whole thing, although one suspects a robot wouldn’t have an odd fascination with showing Piercey Dalton taking a shower seemingly every few minutes during the second act. Come to think of it, a movie about a perverted robot could be interesting. And if that seems like a strange way to conclude a review, rest assured: it’s a better ending than the one contained in this disappointing film.
The Open House is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.