The Open House (Movie Review)

Buying a new home sure is exciting. A potential buyer gets to window-shop through so many different houses of all shapes and sizes, in many different neighborhoods and settings, and, quite possibly, in many different states, or countries. Some of the houses up for sale will hold what is called an OPEN HOUSE, where said buyers can frolic about inside one of these places which is open to the buying public. Well, ever wonder if one of those so-called buyers decides to, maybe, hide in such a house until everyone else has gone away? The curiosity of this thought can now be brought to light, thanks to rent-a-film powerhouse Netflix, with its movie The Open House.

The Open House still.

Released for VOD-streaming on January 19, 2018, The Open House opens its cinematic doorway for the curious moviegoer in search for a scary-good time. Although Netflix is no realtor, in this case, it will show any streaming viewer what sights its newest release contains over the course of 94 minutes. Much like any potential house-buyer, a moviegoer will bring along a “must-have” list of things that will surely help seal the deal. Unfortunately, The Open House will not meet any moviegoer’s requirements.

The Open House weaves the tale of teenager Logan (Dylan Minnette: Prisoners 2013,  Don’t Breathe 2016), who is in-training to be a runner, with high hopes of one day being accepted into the Olympics. His dreams is cut down from an untimely death of his father (Aaron Abrams: Closet Monster 2015, The Go-Getters 2017). Logan’s mother, Naomi (Piercey Dalton: The Orchard  2016) is left with many unpaid bills, and is afraid of losing the house. Her heart aches as she grieves the passing of her husband. With their house on the verge of being ripped out from under them, Logan and Naomi are given the chance to live in a friend’s house, which is secluded in the mountains somewhere, but just until everything begins to settle down. The only stipulation is the mansion is up for sale, and, quite often, it is shown to many potential buyers. During this transition, Logan and Naomi begin to sense that they are not alone in the house.

Sounds promising, right? So far this would mark a check on any list of a moviegoer seeking a good film. The acting chops of Dalton and Minnette are splendid. Each of their character portrayal is played so well, with great conviction, providing a slew of many different emotions from the moment The Open House begins, right up to when the movie ends. The problem, though, is, when it does end, the moviegoer may feel as if he or she had been duped.

The Open House still.

Chairs might be thrown against the wall as a result; bruising might occur to a clenched fist that had been punching a hard floor for around 5 minutes while the credits rolled on the television screen. Why? Because there is no rhyme or reason for any of the happenings. The entire movie falls apart right at the third-quarter mark. Senseless killings and torture paint the rest of the film, but there is no reason for such things. Could it be that Logan and Naomi are just that unlucky? Whatever the case, all in all, it is a sad waste of talent.

Matt Angel along with Suzanne Coote both wrote and directed The Open House together; and while many negative aspects have been pointed out, it is important to mention that Coote and Angel are perfectly capable of telling a great story, and filming a great movie. Being their debut as writers and directors, their direction is flawless, in that each character is as interesting as the next, and the performances from every actor is downright fantastic—especially so for actors Minnette and Dalton. The dialogue is decent as well, except for one little spat between Logan and Naomi; for what spews from the mouths of these characters will cause the viewer to scream aloud in full-on anger, or make one to question as to whether real people would say such things.

With all that aside, The Open House does have its chilling moments, full of thrilling build-ups and set-ups. There are moments of heart, and of sadness—both of which remind the audience that, within this film, lay two grieving family members trying to live life after a death had shattered their hopes and dreams. The Open House also contains a lot of other characters, too, which will not be mentioned here for the sake of surprise upon any first-viewing.

The Open House still.

The Open House may have its flaws, but it does have a lot of good scattered about the film. Angel, who has starred in 2015’s Complications, among other films, as well as Coote are very promising writers and directors. They both have such a knack for edgy style and creepy atmosphere. Angel and Coote have also created and filmed such colorful characters appearing so humanly real upon the big screen. Unfortunately, though, The Open House will not fully complete a “must-have” list, but it will surely grab the attention of any moviegoer browsing the movie market.

For a strong debut full-length feature from Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote, and for the powerful performances of Dylan Minnette and Piercey Dalton, CrypticRock gives The Open House a closeout of 3 out of 5 stars.


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Steven DeJoseph Jr.Author posts

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  • Okay, I’ve been thinking about this movie for 4 days. Watched it 3 times, and I’m pretty sure I’ve figured it out…

    Martha and the plumber were married. They were both living in the house before Naomi and Logan moved in which upset them because it forced them out of the house. Which is why on the first night they stayed there, someone knocks on the door waking up Logan, who then goes downstairs and sees a car in the driveway. The car honks the horn letting Martha know to come outside and (the plumber) drives down the road. Logan leaves the door open as he goes outside to check things out and when he turns around, Martha is there in her pajamas, having been asleep somewhere inside the house (probably the basement) She asks Logan “What are you doing on our property” and runs off in the direction the car just went. This would also explain why Martha is always wandering around aimlessly in the woods, or hanging out at convenient stores at crazy hours of the night, now that they can’t openly roam the house like they’ve been doing for who knows how long.

    I don’t think the intention of the plumber was ever to kill anyone. More like he just wanted to terrorize them enough for them to leave on their own. Because, lets face it he had PLENTY of opportunities to kill them in their sleep, but he doesn’t. Instead he messes with them hoping they will leave on their own. He turns the pilot light out on the water heater while Naomi is in the shower, moves things around the house, makes weird phone calls, and sets up the dining room while Silent Night plays, possibly hinting that they just want peace and quiet in their house again along with their privacy. And yes, all of those things do freak them out, but not enough to leave because they can’t afford to go anywhere else.

    So when Chris shows up that night to stay with them, that’s the last straw from the plumber. Three people are in the house now, and he wants them gone. Chris was probably trying to escape in their car (because really, did anyone else in the movie actually own a car besides Naomi?) when he was killed. Yes, the plumber ties up Naomi, beats her, and breaks her fingers, but he leaves the knife on the floor for Logan to find and set her free. Then he pushes Naomi into Logan holding the knife, ultimately killing her, but the plumber technically didn’t kill her himself. Then he lets Logan go. And that’s that from the plumber. Naomi and Chris are dead and Logan is set free and runs away. The Plumber and Martha have their house back.

    Now for the twist ending:

    There is a completely separated murderer from the plumber. This is a guy acting on his own, going from open house to open house killing unsuspecting victims. He’s the guy you see in the middle of the road when Naomi and Logan are on their way to the mountain house, he’s the guy whose boots you see the day of the open house, and he’s the guy in the very last scene going to the next open house. This is also the same man that kills Logan by the river. You know it’s not the plumber because for the short amount of time that you see his hands, you can tell they are black, not Caucasian like the plumber. He is also considerably more slender. Logan got away from the plumber and fell right into the hands of “the open house serial killer” simple by an unfortunate coincidence.

    I thought the movie was good. It worked up the suspense, had a decent setting, and the acting was very good. I felt cold just watching Logan shivering around the last 20 minutes of the movie. Just because all the loose ends weren’t tied into a neat little bow, doesn’t make it a bad movie. Frustrating maybe, but it let me put some pieces together that I wouldn’t have thought twice about if it ended the way we wanted it to. Sometimes it’s refreshing to watch a movie that doesn’t end in a “happily ever after”. Because life doesn’t always end that way.

    • Hi, Anon. I thought the same thing about the plumber, but the mansion belonged to Naomi’s sister(?)/friend(?), so I kind of looked the other way on that notion. And I could not agree anymore with you about some movies ending on a not so always happy ending, but what happens toward the end just never added up. The movie was soooo good right up to the third quarter. However, I love your theory, and I love movies that keep you guessing. This one had stayed with me for a little while.

  • This movie leaves you with so many unanswered questions.
    Martha: Is plumber her husband? Is her husband really dead? Why is she always wandering around?
    Real estate agents: Why was the guy so freaked out? Scared to be in the house.
    House: What was Logan looking at in the basement his first day, the hallway leading to a wall of boarded up lumber?
    The sister never had any problems in the house, but why she selling it??
    The plumber: He went from sneaky and mischevious to murderer? WHY?? Why the finger torture?

    Weird movie – I suspect a sequel and a prequel are coming!!

    • Haha!! That’s exactly how I felt, S Pross. Great directing, acting, decent dialogue, tense scariness—but then, here comes the third act and-BOOM!—all for naught. I think a lot of those scenes —the plumber; Martha’s wandering; etcetera—were all just decoys.

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