Today's movie is The Open House, a film that seems to pose the question 'how can we take out everything that people would like in a horror movie and still have a movie?' You may not want to stay for long, but come and see the open house tour of... the movie The Open House. I also accept it if you hated that joke and never come back.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE AHEAD!
Directors: Matt Angel, Suzanne Coote
Starring: Dylan Mynnette, Piercey Dalton
Co-written with Tony, Nathan and Michelle.
I guess this thing is a Netflix original that they put up for anyone to see – which honestly makes me wonder who at Netflix was mad that day and why he felt the need to take it out on us.
This thing is just puzzling because, for much of its duration, it's kinda hard to tell even what it's supposed to be about. Is it a supernatural ghost story? A serial killer slasher? There are really no clues. Hearing that without seeing it, I'd hope there was just enough ambiguity and subtlety to keep you guessing. In reality, it's more like they lost the script during production and just winged it for most of the time while an underpaid intern was dispatched to go find the script. Clearly he never did...
The basic plot of the movie is that this kid Logan, played by 13 Reasons Why's Dylan Mynnette, is at the gas station with his father when a car hits and kills the father within the first five minutes. Wait, stop – we barely had a chance to be annoyed at the shallow writing of that character! At a funeral later, the mom's sister comes over and barely wastes a second on condolences before offering them to come stay in the empty mountain house she's trying to sell. Wow. How saintly of her to come down from her gold palace in the mountains to spend time with these fucking peasants. I just love how sudden it is – she barely says two words before going into that pitch. Like she only came there just to offer them that and not actually to grieve for her brother-in-law, and it was just convenient that the funeral was going on and gave her an excuse.
So I guess they're off to the mountain house now... I guess the reasoning was that it would help them heal or whatever, but they never attempt to talk about the father or anything, and never look like they're even trying to deal with their grief. Logan just grouses a lot about how he's missing school. GEE, I'm SORRY you're missing out on the mundane school classes to come stay at a COOL MOUNTAIN HOUSE, Prince Persnickety! What a travesty! Somehow I doubt this kid was ever gonna be a fucking surgeon or the President anyway. I doubt he's missing much.
Perhaps the greatest character in this movie or in any movie is Martha, the sweet old lady who speaks solely in cryptic, ominous horror movie quotes with a smile on her face while the characters just look at her dumbfounded. It's seriously the best thing ever. Her first appearance has her recognizing Logan and his mom without ever seeing them before. It takes a few more lines of dialogue for them to figure out that, apparently, the aunt sent along a picture and their names ahead of time so Martha would know them. That's not weird at all... and that's how real people talk, right? In awkward cryptic dialogs that are stretched out for no reason?
Then Martha starts talking about her dead husband and says every day she feels the eternal void of darkness – you know, just regular gas station chat for a Wednesday night!
THEN she closes the conversation by saying how they're “never really alone” out there and the silence “can get loud” out there, which is either pleasant talk from a neighbor or the words whispered by a serial killer right before your car goes off the road and then you're knifed in the woods a few minutes later. I mean, I can barely tell the difference now.
Most of the movie after this is just this numb slog through absolutely nothing. They mope around in the house and don't really do any kind of healing or character development or even anything remotely interesting. They have a whole secluded mountain house that's nicer than anything I ever stayed in. And they use it for, what, just sitting there staring at the walls? That makes me so angry. What small minded boring clod actually thought the best things he could do with his movie was have Logan prowling around in the basement playing with the power switches for most of the movie? Oh, he also jogs a bit – my bad, wouldn't want to misrepresent the insane levels of drama here. But those things are really the bulk of the film. I think the director probably finds waiting in line at the DMV to be titillating. He watches the DVD menus of movies and that's entertaining enough for him. I mean who needs any actual scares in a fucking horror movie?
Oh, but don't let me deprive you of the bizarre dialogue between those scenes. Like the one dude at the store who for some reason feels the need to say this line talking about how the mom is pretty, which I'll just copy and paste whole: “I just mean the mountain folk can get a little, uh... scruffy at times. And I am not talking about the men.”
Thanks for that tidbit, dude! You truly are a bastion of poetic thought. A real Keats for this generation. What would we ever do without your witty, quaint observations on modern small-town life, your flippant yet honest quips that reveal as much about you as they do the audience?
Then we get Logan's treatise on the idea of an “open house” in general: “I mean, you give your keys to someone you hardly know, they stand in one room and welcome in a bunch of complete strangers, and those people just roam around the house. And the realtor doesn't check the house when it's done, right? They just... turn the lights off and go?”
Wow! What a revelatory insight! Are you going to walk us through airplane food next? I mean, while you're working on that Tight Five.
Then we get a big fight between Logan and his mom that seemingly erupts out of nowhere after over an hour of screentime with no other such developments. She says the dad had been irresponsible with money and left them nothing when he died. He says he hates her and wishes SHE had died. Wonderful! My favorite part is how this never comes up again! Yup – it was never brought up before, and this is the last time we hear about any of it. Character development by masters, clearly. Why didn't Vince Gilligan sign these writers up to help with Better Call Saul?
The climax seemingly comes out of nowhere – while the open house is going on, apparently someone broke in or something. The cops weren't called by the realtors, because they're the real estate company that doesn't care about their properties! Instead, the mom has to call them – only, typical of small town cops, they don't really do anything.
Later on, the killer just sneaks in and starts fucking with them. I guess 'killer' isn't really the right word. He knocks Logan out when Logan finds a dead body outside, and then pours gasoline or water or something all over him... and then just leaves him outside. Then he finds the mom and lies in her bed for several minutes without her noticing. She even gets up and goes to the bathroom, comes back and looks at a picture of her dead husband... and doesn't notice the guy! Wow! That can't even really be HIS fault anymore after a point. Not to victim blame – but he's not so much an intruder as a very weird roommate at this point. He was probably feeling dejected that she didn't notice him faster.
Then again maybe she just has a rare disease where she can't feel anything and the world in general is just numb – I like to call it 'the feeling of watching this fucking movie.'
Anyway, he ties her up and breaks her fingers! He doesn't kill her or anything... just breaks her fingers. You know, I'm starting to think this guy has no plan and is just an especially aggressive prankster. Lame.
Then Logan goes down to the basement and stabs who he THINKS is the killer, but it turns out, whoops, it's his own mom he just stabbed by accident! Silly Logan. Just one of those common mistakes for clumsy people! Also it's a complete dog-shit, run into the ground cliché and I think anyone doing this in a movie should be BANNED FOR LIFE FROM MAKING MOVIES. Or, you know, just made fun of for being cliché. Do what you feel is appropriate.
Logan then runs around in the woods for a while aimlessly. Martha shows back up for one more hurrah and the final good moment of the film, where she just stares blankly ahead and smiles like she thinks she's at a tropical island resort, which, honestly, this character probably does really think. Oh if only...
Then the morning comes and the killer finds Logan and unceremoniously strangles and kills him. Why did he wait that long? Logan could've easily found some cops or another person and alerted the authorities – it was only by the sheer grace and immensity of his idiocy that he didn't. Either way, what an underwhelming and shitty garbage-ass final kill!
This movie is an amazing cobble of ridiculous and bizarre choices. It's so ludicrous in its slow pace and lack of anything happening, and the silly dialogue on top of all of that makes me actually kinda like it. This is basically cut from the same cloth as The Room or Troll 2. And by God did we need another like that! Hats off to The Open House!
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