Judge Clark Douglas' open houses usually have more cheese and less murder.
Welcome to the neighborhood.
So I looked at the cover of Open House and immediately noticed the first thing almost everyone who looks at the cover will notice: "Hey, it's Bill and Sookie from True Blood!"
Yes, the famous husband-and-wife team of Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin are featured prominently on the packaging and the color scheme of the DVD case is specifically designed to evoke memories of True Blood. Perhaps it's a project Moyer and Paquin decided to star in between seasons of their popular HBO show? Alas, if you're checking out this DVD for the reasons the packaging seems to want you to check out the DVD, you'll come away sorely disappointed. Paquin is on-screen for roughly two minutes and Moyer is around for maybe five. Both have vanished from the film completely by the fifteen-minute mark. Oh well.
The story actually revolves around the other three people featured on the case. One of them is a girl named Alice (Rachel Blanchard, Snakes on a Plane), who is kidnapped and locked inside her own home by a psychotic man named David (Brian Geraghty, The Hurt Locker). David's partner is Lila (Tricia Helfer, Battlestar Galactica), another psychopath.
David and Lila have a little game they're particularly fond of playing. Here's how it works: Lila will seduce some random guy, start to have sex with him and then David will sneak up behind the unsuspecting dude and murder him. Talk about an unpleasant form of coitus interruptus. So what does Alice have to do with all this? Nothing much. It's just that David and Lila needed a house to use for their activities and Alice's house seemed like a good choice. Not everything has gone according to plan, however. It seems David was actually supposed to kill Alice and then hide the body, but David instead chose to chain Alice up in the basement because he felt sorry for her.
Obviously, this is going to lead to some complications. Alice is understandably attempting to find a way to escape, but she must do so without ever alerting Lila to her presence. If Lila discovers that Alice is still alive, she'll be rather upset and take out her anger on both Alice and David. Meanwhile, David is going through something of a personal crisis, finding that he's more attracted to Alice's innocence than Lila's murderous scheming. He attempts to strike up something of a romance with Alice, and to our surprise, she seems to be okay with the idea.
After all of this elaborate set-up, you've essentially got an hour or so of sexual tension, psychological games, and a large house of cards built upon deception after deception. This is lot less fun than it sounds, as the movie frequently demonstrates potential but never manages to capitalize on its biggest opportunities. Despite a handful of bloody scenes that pop up every 15 minutes or so, the film isn't particularly frightening or even creepy. It's just kind of bland, a somewhat amateurish mishandling of a potentially successful concept.
The film was directed by Andrew Paquin, Anna's brother. At the very least, he's managed to pull some talented folks into this low-budget film, as Blanchard, Geraghty, and particularly Helfer turn in strong performances considering what they have to work with. Outside of that trio, there isn't much to comment on, as the film's basically a three-person show.
The DVD transfer is pretty good, though darker scenes are a bit murky at times. Detail is excellent, though, while flesh tones seem warm and natural. The sound is solid as well, with an effectively atmospheric score by True Blood composer Nathan Barr getting a lot of attention. Supplements include an amiable audio commentary with Andrew Paquin and Brian Geraghty, some deleted scenes and a trailer.
As home invasion horror flicks go, Open House is by no means at the bottom of the barrel, but its numerous intriguing ideas rarely manage to go anywhere. Too bad.
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