Thriller. Suspense. Horror. Whatever the flavor of jump, they are best consumed with company. Part of the fun is hooting and hollering at the theater or television screen because the movie is so bad, and jumping and screaming when the movie is so good. One way or the other, it can be a worthwhile experience that can be shared repeatedly. Netflix recently debuted Open House, a thriller lead by Dylan Minnette, and with Netflix’s current record of accomplishment of hits and misses, the odds of being laughed at fall squarely in the middle.
After a family tragedy – it always seems like to follow one of these, doesn’t it – Logan (Minnette) and his mother, Naomi (Piercey Dalton), resign themselves to staying at a family member’s home while it’s being shown for sale. Almost immediately after arriving, strange occurrences begin in the house, which then lead to their lives threatened by an unseen presence.
Calm down, this isn’t about ghouls and goblins or anything supernatural. Think simpler and more realistic, though possibly just as strange. Writer-directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote come at us with a very clean and basic story, filled with misdirects that – while somewhat overdone – eventually take you on a roller coaster ride of tension , concluding with a few moments of mayhem that wrap things up with surprising satisfaction.
Dylan Minnette (13 Reasons Why, Don’t Breathe) as Logan was a solid choice. It’s easy to see yourself in his shoes, running through his emotions as he grapples with an insane scenario. Dylan is a great addition to the “Every Man” type of actor. Piercey Dalton as Naomi was also wise casting, carrying herself with expertise. When these two were scared, I was frightened for them. Sharif Atkins and Patricia Bethune’s characters broke up the tension of the story through their humorous antics, and I don’t think there is much more you can ask for from a small cast.
The production of Open House is where it really shines. The use of wide shots was fantastic! It is sheer bliss as a viewer to not know where to focus your eyes when you can hear something happening, but you just can’t place where on screen it is happening at. I found myself rewinding several scenes just so that I could ingest everything. That kind of interaction between viewer and movie is a rarity, and was exceptionally well done in my book.
When the movie is not trying to terrify you, Angel and Coote take these lovely breaks to emphasize the vast loveliness of the Colorado landscape. Sound design enveloped my room enough to question if there was something lurking within my own home. I’ve really got to hand it to the production team as the combination of wide angles, breathtaking scenery, and a stellar use of sound created something truly immersive and fun.
A good thriller isn’t rocket science, and Open House proved that with confidence and skill. The most refreshing part of the movie is that mic drop of an ending. It’s not concerned with answering questions or putting a pretty bow on the story, instead it’s just going to look you dead in the eyes and leave the room. The rest is on you.
Watch this movie with that special person in your life that likes to smile, scream and jump at movies like this. Open House proves that it can stand up to your laughter, and it can capitalize on your fears, because that ending will remind you just how close to home this story truly can be.
Starring Dylan Minnette, Piercey Dalton, Patricia Bethune
Screenplay by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote
Directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote