The Open House follows a different route than most thriller/horrors. Which you may love at first, until what happens in the ending.
Matt Angel, Suzanne Coote
Matt Angel, Suzanne Coote
Thriller, Horror, Who Dun It
Circling their way toward poverty, Brian and Naomi are just trying to keep it together. Especially for Logan who seemingly, with how fast of a runner he is, could make something of himself. However, with Brian getting killed by someone who apparently had a heart attack behind the wheel, this forces Naomi to rely on the kindness of her sister Ally and her husband Bruce. Two people who are fairly well off and have a mansion in the mountains they are looking to sell. Which, with that in mind, since it is just sitting there, Ally offers it to her nephew and sister.
Leaving only a handful of problems. Not heat and electricity, since it seems Ally and Bruce are still paying for that, and not even the fact that Naomi is unemployed so who knows how she is affording groceries. More so it is the few, very few, people we meet in the town. There is Chris, a store owner, or clerk, who seemingly has a thing for Naomi, and then there is Martha, the neighbor who is a widow with Alzheimer’s. Technically there is also Joni, the realtor, and her show person Ed too, but Naomi and Logan only see them on Sundays.
So, this pretty much leaves them stuck, or perhaps trapped, together most of the time. Which, is fine in the beginning until random things start happening. Such as the pilot light going off, doors randomly closing, Logan losing his phone, and this leads to some accusations and hurtful things being said. Naomi thinks Logan is messing with her, due to being mad about having to move in the middle of the school year, and Logan makes it clear that he isn’t happy about that nor how his mom hasn’t been the most maternal as he has been dealing with his dad dying – right in front of him.
But, all their bickering gets put aside as they realize someone is definitely trying to freak them out, if not worse.
Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments
Naomi was married to Brian for at least 16 years and he was a plumber before, seemingly, laid off.
Though rated MA, it isn’t a hard MA. There is some nudity from Naomi, mostly side boob, and bare ass, and while there is violence in the form of seeing someone’s fingers get broken and a view of someone after their neck gets slit, it isn’t too graphic.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
So you’re telling me, all that money Ally and Bruce have, which includes a burglary system, and yet there are no cameras on the property?
Considering the area they lived in, how come Martha never wandered too far and ended up freezing to death?
Also, considering how much water got thrown on Logan, how was he able to survive a whole night with wet clothes?
The Mother and Son Issues
In a very strange way, the mother and son issues sort of reminded me of Lady Bird in a way. If only because you really wanted to see these two explore their issues with one another, as well as demystify who Logan thought his father was and what the truth is. Especially since Logan wants to treat his father like a saint while he demonizes his mother for doing her best.
You Never Learn Who The Killer Is
If you’re like me, you’ll spend most of the film being torn between the relationship between Logan and Naomi and trying to figure out who is harassing them. You see Martha wandering around so you think it might be her, but then with the way the basement is, including the broken step, you know it isn’t her. You think maybe Chris or the cops might be the villain, but then you see the guy’s size and a pale face. But in the end, you realize, this man isn’t supposed to be identified.
Whoever the killer is, he is supposed to represent the dozen or more people who, if you have an open house, can randomly enter your home and learn everything they need about you. As they wander, they can pick up your phone and learn your schedule, see around your house and learn how many people live there, and honestly, the only thing which would make this film more terrifying is a “Based on a True Story” tag in the beginning. For then, this would basically be some America’s Most Wanted scenario, in which dozens of people this could pertain to.
It Didn’t Need Gore To Be Creepy or Make You Feel For The Characters
A sort of combination of both of the highlights above, what I liked is that this movie really took the time and made an effort for you to care about the potential victims. The movie, in my mind, combined what could have been a drama about a mother and son’s relationship, with a random serial killer who’d be featured in some direct to obscurity movie.
Which I say because, most characters in films like this don’t have the sort of depth we get with Logan and Naomi. There isn’t this subplot dealing with complicated relationships and certainly not this sense of us dealing with real people on hard times. And then when it comes to the killer, more often than not, it is someone they know or who is trying to take advantage of their predicament. Hell, for a good period of the movie, I was wondering if Naomi and Brian tried to pull an insurance scam or something. Yet that isn’t the case at all. Instead, The Open House makes it so the killer could be anyone and it places this sort of paranoia in you that even if they aren’t some WWE sized white man, this type of person could be anywhere.
Hell, it doesn’t even have to be your house. Just imagine you work somewhere late or a similar routine where someone can learn your movements. What is to stop them from doing the same thing the killer does? Just thinking about it makes me glad I watched this movie while there was still lights out.
On The Fence
Full Disclosure: I Kind of Hate The Fact The Killer Is Unidentified
While I do have to praise the direction of making the killer potentially anyone, just some guy you never look twice at, the problem with the movie is we do get to see the guy’s face and skin color. Making it so, one could argue the guy who came to fix the plumbing, it could be him. Which, if that is the case, it sort of sucks that the villain may hint that maybe he could have taken out Martha’s husband, perhaps has been stalking the place for a while, but we learn not a single thing about him. There is no motive, no background, he is just a local plumber who stalks Open Houses, causes problems, and then takes out house sitters and makes it look, perhaps, like an accident.
And I say perhaps just because it really looked like he made sure Logan would stab Naomi and that it could look like Logan died of hypothermia. But I could be giving the plumber guy, played by Paul Rae, too much credit.
Overall: Mixed (Divisive)
On one hand, we got this intriguing relationship dynamic between a mother and son that hasn’t been beaten into the ground as of late. The type of storyline you hope inspires someone to pull a Lady Bird and craft their story. Yet, on the other hand, we have a killer who goes unidentified and while he plants this paranoia seed in your head, at the same time, even with him breaking Naomi’s fingers and setting her up for her own son to kill her, you wonder if that is enough? Does that make up for all the exposition we partake in being for naught? Especially considering there isn’t a real, “GOT YA!” twist to it but more so a, “I bet you didn’t see that coming?” vibe?
That is why this is being labeled mixed. While a part of me liked we got tricked into thinking the killer was someone introduced, at the same time, it sort of sucked that the killer was a nobody. For while it may make you look at people twice, in terms of the movie, it makes it so there isn’t any real payoff.