Over the last several years Netflix has revolutionized not only how we watch television but what we watch. With its tremendously successful original television programming it was a natural next step to make the move to produce original films. For horror fans, Netflix had a huge hit last fall with Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel, Gerald’s Game. To the dismay of genre fans, the success of Gerald’s Game was followed by the misstep of the big-budget Will Smith feature, Bright. The new Netflix chiller, The Open House, released just last week, doesn’t do much to correct course for the streaming giant.
Starring Dylan Minnette (13 Reasons Why, Don’t Breathe, Goosebumps) and Canadian actress Piercey Dalton, The Open House follows the plight of a mother and her teenage son, left with few options after the sudden death of her husband, and forced to stay in a sister’s home while it’s up for sale. Soon after settling in to their temporary home, strange neighbours and stranger events within the home begin to unfold.
Dull and Derivative
The Open House has very little to recommend, hence the short review. Dull and completely unimaginative, the film lazily skips along from one obligatory plot point to the next. It’s all here – strange sounds in the night, objects that disappear and re-appear, skeptical law enforcement. Horror tropes are liberally borrowed and scattered over the film’s runtime. There’s little in the way of jolts or tension. And things don’t improve in the film’s final act, which features an almost inexplicable ending. Films that feel the need to explain everything to their audience, or lean heavily on expository dialogue, are demeaning, but the ending to The Open House has no connection to anything previously established in the storyline. It’s a cop out. Dylan Minnette’s performance is the only thing worth noting in The Open House. Minnette is a gifted actor but his talents are wasted here.
The Open House reminded me of the made-for-television films that would pop up on evening television in the 1980s and early 1990s. It has a completely generic feel to it, barely registering over its runtime. You won’t remember having watched ten minutes after the credits have finished rolling. Take my recommendation, skip this “open house”, and hope that Netflix’s next horror offering, The Ritual, is a step in the right direction.
THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: F