Thursday, October 14, 2010

Open House 2010

The straight to video film Open House is an example of a good idea poorly executed.  Directed by first-timer Andrew Paquin (Anna's brother, hence the cameo's by her and Stephen Moyer), the film suffers from a lack of character development, poor pacing, and a misleading marketing campaign that is sure to piss some people off.

Despite their prominence on the poster, Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer hardly appear in this film.  The cleaning people have more screen time.  Rachel Blanchard (the lead, who is not even on the poster) plays Alice, a woman getting divorced and trying to sell her gigantic house in L.A.  One day, while the Realtor is conducting an open house, someone sneaks into the basement and hides.  When Alice arrives home that evening, she discovers that she is no longer alone.

David, a handsome young psychopath from the Norman Bates school, has taken up residence.  He kidnaps Alice and hides her in a crawlspace in the basement.  We soon learn that David has a partner, the beautiful and deadly Lila, played by Tricia Helfer.  Lila is even more bloodthirsty than David, and she gets her kicks by seducing and then killing visitors to the house.  David videotapes the action and then disposes of the bodies.  Lila knows nothing about Alice.  She is David's secret.  Knowing this, Alice tries to convince him to let her go, or better yet, get rid of Lila so that they can run away together.

See, a pretty good set-up right?  Unfortunately, the pay-off is disappointing.  I kept expecting the film to go in one direction, and it goes in another.  Usually this is a good thing, and unexpected twist, but in this case it is a missed opportunity.  I kept wanting to know more about the relationship between Lila and David.  There is a tremendous amount of sexual tension between them, but also a bit of sibling rivalry.  Was Lila a prisoner of David's like Alice?  Who really controls who?  Is David really interested in Alice or just bored with Lila?  These really interesting questions are never answered.  The character of Alice is so underdeveloped we don't really care if she lives or dies.  The scenes that are supposed to evoke tension are textbook. 

There are good things about this film.  It looks and sounds great.  Brian Geraghty, who plays David, is a creepy revelation.  He is so good I would be happy to see another film about his character alone.  The whole thing was interesting enough to make me want to see Andrew Paquin's next film.  I hope he sticks with horror.


Anonymous said...

This is in my Netflix queue but I haven't watched it yet. I also thought the idea was interesting and you've kinda made me want to move it up to see in what direction it goes.

Heather Santrous said...

I noticed this in a RedBox one night and almost rented it. There were only two movies I had yet to see in the horror movies that the RedBox had. After reading your review I'm glad I passed on it now. I have enough movies to watch right now without renting more.

I might still give it a watch someday, but I won't be in a big hurry thanks to you. :)