Netflix’s ‘The Open House’ Provides Teen-Chills With Little Thrills
There is something innately off-putting about the concept of an open house. Random strangers exploring every inch of the place you call home. You never know who could be lurking around long after the realtor leaves. Naturally, this idea is quite befitting of its own horror film. Enter Netflix’s latest venture “The Open House,” a slow burn thriller that provides far more questions than answers.
Dylan Minnette (“Don’t Breathe,” “13 Reasons Why”) plays Logan Wallace, a teenager who has been dealt a hard card in life. Following a successful practice for his 100-meter run, Logan and his father go to the store. But their routine visit becomes unforgettable as Logan witnesses the death of his father. Much like Minnette’s “13 Reasons Why” character, Logan is relatively quiet and observant. He is very much a lone wolf. It’s an archetype that Minnette plays well.
The death of his father proves to be a hard financial hit for him and his mother, Naomi (Piercey Dalton). Now a single parent, Naomi cannot afford to keep living in their suburban home. Broken from their recent losses, the two pack their belongings and move up into the mountains to stay at Naomi’s sister’s vacant vacation home, which is currently up for sale.
During their stay in the mini-mansion, they must leave every Sunday while the realtors run an open house. But upon each return, strange things begin happening around the house suggesting that they might not be alone. Personal belongings start to disappear, strange noises come from the creepy basement, they receive static phone calls, and other creepy-horror clichés occur. Of course, Logan is more observant to these strange happenings, but when he tries to explain them to his mother, she lashes out and doesn’t believe him until it’s too late.
However, in terms of originality, the teen chiller does still have its fair share. The large house set deep in the woods is aesthetically not of traditional Victorian horror movie set design. Seemingly built in the 1990’s, the resort style home, dusted in a coat of snow, is quite refreshing. The nearby small mountain town, and the characters who inhabit it, including an all too nosey neighbor, are slightly off – giving the setting an almost “Twin Peaks” atmosphere.
Written and directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote, the duo proves to be far more successful at the latter title. The first time helmers create unusual and off-putting atmosphere, but their ability to build tension and suspense doesn’t fully show until late into the final act. But the slow burn thriller suffers most from its bare bones script. While the threat messing with our two protagonists is never truly revealed, there are absolutely no answers given as to explain why any of this is happening. It’s an open-ended attempt for the writers to create mystery around the situation, but ultimately it leaves the viewer unsatisfied and scratching their head. The teen audience will likely scream, but others need not apply.
‘The Open House’ premieres Jan. 19 on Netflix .