Phil on Film Index

Sunday, January 30, 2011

DVD Review - Open House

The Film

There's nothing new in Open House, the feature debut of writer/director Andrew Paquin, with the film suggesting a lifetime spent watching horror movies and learning very little from them. All of the action takes place in a house being put on the market by Alice (Rachel Blanchard) following her split from husband Josh (Stephen Moyer), and the film opens with an estate agent showing a pair of prospective buyers around the property. While he does so, a mysterious figure slips into the house unnoticed and hides himself away in the basement. This is David (Brian Geraghty), one half of a serial killer duo, whose MO is to invade open houses and kill the inhabitants, before treating any unfortunate visitors to the same treatment. For reasons that are known only to himself (and are never satisfactorily explained), David decides to let Alice live, instead locking her away in the basement and letting her join him upstairs when his ruthless partner Lila (Tricia Helfer) leaves, I guess? We never really find out what she does either.

As you may have gathered, a cloud of vagueness hangs over Open House, which rarely gets into any specifics regarding its plot, its characters or their motivation. The picture quickly settles into a very repetitive pattern, with David revealing a more vulnerable side to his character by allowing Alice to sit with him, before quickly stashing her away again when Lila turns up. This is supposed to be the prime source of tension for the film, but Alice's character is so underwritten we never care about her even in her state of extreme peril. The same could be said about any of the victims who turn up to be sliced and stabbed by David and Lila throughout the movie; they're just victims, and there's no sense of suspense as they are summarily despatched.

Brian Geraghty is good at playing unsettlingly quiet characters and he has some effective moments here (although his dress and manner is sometimes reminiscent of the superior Funny Games). Helfer's performance as the cold-blooded seductress is a little more strained, and while a sense of family loyalty obviously persuaded Anna Paquin to sign up for a cameo, it's a shame she only gets a couple of minutes of screen time. Even at just over 80 minutes, Open House is a surprisingly dull affair, which struggles to hold the viewers' interest between murders, and a sustained frenzy of stabbing late in the day can't energise the picture before its abrupt and unsatisfying ending.

The Extras

The only extra on the disc is a trailer, but a spot of googling suggests that the US release contained an audio commentary and some deleted scenes. What gives?

Open House is released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 24th

Buy Open House here