I’ll warn you right now, there is a rant at the end of this review – a rant that probably doesn’t have that much to do with the film itself, but it does relate to it. And the reason for that rant is my habit of checking out trailers for films I receive to review (unless I already know about them). That seriously backfired on me this time, & I’ll explain why at the end. But for now, let’s talk about Open House, the directorial debut of Andrew Paquin
Alice & Josh are going through a nasty divorce & are in the process of selling their lovenest so that they can continue with their lives, separately. Alice is still living in the house while they try & sell it through “open house” viewings.
After the first successful day of viewings, Alice discovers to her horror that one of the potential buyers didn’t leave the house. Now held captive in her basement, while the uninvited guest moves in upstairs, Alice comes to realise that her captivity is some kind of rebellious secret & that the only way she can hope to escape is to gain the trust of her captor.
But will she be able to get out alive?
Where do I begin? I honestly don’t know what to tell you about first. Is it better if I mention the one dimensional characters, the bad acting or the uninvolving plot?
OK, let’s look at the characters first. Let’s start with Alice, played by Rachel Blanchard. We’re never given any reason to really care about her, apart from the fact that she is at the mercy of the psycho upstairs. There is no time spent trying to establish some kind of an emotional connection between the audience & Alice, and Rachel Blanchard is fairly bland in the role, not acting in a believable way at all, so for the entire film, while Alice is captive in the basement, I just didn’t really care. There was no tension as to what was going to happen to her, which was in part due to the bad writing but also due to the way the character was written, developed & played.
And this is the case with all the rest of the characters in the film. Anna Paquin, the sister of the writer & director Andrew Paquin (and best known for her role in X-Men & True Blood) is one of the billed stars of the film – and she is pretty much in a blink & you’ll miss her role, which surprised me quite a bit. But then Stephen Moyer, who is also related to the director through marriage & is better known for his role in True Blood, is also in the film for about 5 minutes before he is despatched – and again, there is no emotional attachement developed for these two characters, so their deaths don’t really cause any kind of emotional response from the viewers – which, I have to say, is a severe problem for a thriller. If you don’t care about the characters in danger then there isn’t really going to be any tension or thrilling moments now is there?
Which brings me onto Tricia Helfer and Brian Geraghty in the roles of Lila & David, the two uninvited guests who have moved in upstairs. They both, surprisingly enough, perform better here than the other actors as they’re given a little more to work with, and Brian Geraghty in particular is very good in the role of the emotionally detached & sociopathic David. Unfortunately, there is a back story hinted at here & there, which was obviously planned out to give the characters a little more depth, but is never explored in any way so we don’t get any reason for the killings or other actions that they make or the way they are together – and I can’t help feeling that if this had been developed in a bit more detail it would have added more to the film, or at least given it more than the one dimension it has other wise.
As for the rest of the plot, there are some serious holes. Are we supposed to believe that, for however long it is that David has Alice captive (as it is never stated as to how long it has been) that none of her friends have found it odd that she has vanished? Or what about her husbands disappearance? Or her friend, Jennie? Or the other people who get bumped off? None of that is found to be suspicious? Yeah, ok.
Seriously, there are big enough plot holes here that you could drive a double decker bus through them, and it totally takes you out of the film & just reminds you of how badly developed the story is.
For a debut film, you can normally excuse a certain amount of plot holes or poor performances, but none of the actors involved, all of whom are very experienced in acting in big films or TV shows, bring anything extra ordinary to the table here to help the film & Andrew Paquin isn’t talented enough as a director or writer to salvage what turns out to be a mediocre & fairly boring thriller.
So that, in a nutshell, is that. Open House is a pretty disappointing & uneventful thriller. It is very hard to recommend it in any way, as the acting is nothing special (even when you consider the talent involved) and the directing is nothing special, either. It’s mostly disappointing, though, because there was a certain amount of promise that just hasn’t been realised, and in the hands of a better writer or director could have made a very interesting thriller.
As it is, it’s very hard to recommend in any way, which is a real shame.
Now, onto that rant. When I checked out the trailer on Youtube, I not only saw what the film was about, but I also saw every single one of the KILLS in the film! Seriously, a trailer is meant to be a tease for the film, a way of getting an audiences attention & interest for the film & make them want to see it. What is the point, then, of showing every single moment from the film where a character dies? It not only gives away who is going to survive, but in the case of a thriller, takes away any of the “thrilling” moments as they have already been revealed to the audience. It’s very hard to care about a character when you already know in advance that they are going to die. Sure, you can argue that it was my fault for watching the trailer, but what if I’d seen it in front of a film at the cinema or on DVD? Then it would have the same effect. Dumb, very dumb.