Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Open House (2010)

No one said who it could be open to

A woman named Alice (Rachel Blanchard) is selling her house after a divorce and her agent is showing it off to potential buyers while she still lives in the residence. A person sneaks in and hides--hey, it's an "open house" isn't it--and awaits her to come home, not because this person wants to dodge the pesky realtor, but to meet her face to face and use her dwelling as a slaughterhouse for whoever comes in contact with it.

You're introduced to David (Brian Geraghty) and Lila (Tricia Helfer): a couple who make a sadistic partnership, as the female is spontaneous and seductive, and the male is the silent planner type. Lila arrives at the home after the bloody fact with a friend of Alice already being killed, but doesn't know David has the homeowner Alice locked away instead of slaying her too. Lila is gone during the day and David plays Mr. Nice to the traumatized Alice with some Stockholm Syndrome to smooth her over for a possible change of heart.

Death after death is shown by both David and Lila with the weapon of choice being a kitchen knife and video camera rolling to catch the memory. Though this comes with no real point and has more forced scares going on than your neighbor's cheap garage setup during Halloween. This tries far too hard to make you uneasy without actually providing anything to substantially pull that off with, such as cueing the high pitched and grating music too early or late, or just the pacing having drastic ups and downs. Like "The Strangers" attempted, there's no background motivational factor to these perfectly normal looking villains except to show every now and again they have moments of anger and control problems. Not to mention there's only a quick little character backdrop on the victims but nothing that would make you care in the slightest. That might have been fine and dandy to creating fear of the unknown, but this is also missing the element to put you in their shoes if it was being any more minimalist. Could this happen to you when selling your house? From the tone of this movie, probably not, as the camera never bothers to leave the home and show someone enter at their own risk, or even get a questioning look through the blinds from a neighbor to put you on edge or their sadistic plans on ice. The safety barrier of the screen you're watching it on is never pulled away.

For a film aimed towards horrific murder it's awfully polite and melodramatic by trying to play on what you wouldn't expect serial killers to act or look like as one is glamorous and model-esque and the other polite and clean cut. The tone tries to be two things at once: gruesome and personal. It shows the deteriorating relationship between David and Lila, as well as the growing one with David and Alice. You'll get the side that's warm and caring to each other, and another that delivers point blank killings to everyone else. The camera follows around David and will literally sit on him doing everyday household things as if something substantial is going on between the lines. As if you're supposed to feel bad but forget that he's a maniac underneath that wholesome '50s look because he's lonely and cooks a mean dish. The interpretations left up the viewer rely on luck than truly being open to them. The paper thin storyline all the while drops little hints, but strings you along by being so vague as to lose the audience's attention long before its conclusion. They could have told me who really shot Kennedy at the end and it wouldn't have saved this.

"The Stepfather" did something similar where he pretended to be somebody he wasn't and when after he was done with the people just disposed of them; the horror being that it's a cycle and he'll only do it again. "Open House" tries to dodge what you wouldn't anticipate if you watch horror films, with not only the characters but the drama-like story line that pushes away from tried and true conventions, though somehow it couldn't maintain the juggling act as basic as it was.

Rating: 2/10

From Black to Red recommends instead: "The Collector" from 2009, which was much more effective for a recent trapped in a house movie that balanced fear, mysteriousness and suspense.

Director: Andrew Paquin
Stars: Brian Geraghty, Rachel Blanchard, Anna Paquin, Tricia Helfer, Stephen Moyer
Link: IMDB

No comments:

Post a Comment