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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Open House

July 31st, 2010

Open House - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Open House was written / directed by Andrew Paquin, who is the older brother of Anna Paquin. It is a Direct-to-DVD horror film with an impressive cast, but does it have more than name recognition of some of its stars going for it?

The Movie

Rachel Blanchard stars as Alice, a young lady going through a breakup with Josh, who recently moved out of their house. Since Alice can't keep up on the mortgage payments herself, she has decided to sell the place. At the beginning of the film, the realtor, Carl, is holding an open house. All goes well, except one of the perspective buyers is David, who is part of a serial killing team. He and his "wife," Lila, find houses on the market and he hides inside them during open houses. Once the owner returns, David kills them and he and Lila live in the house as a happy couple, killing anyone who shows up.

This time around things are a little different, as David doesn't have the heart to kill Alice because something about her reminds him of a more innocent, less controlling version of Lila. Lila is definitely the alpha predator here and he's tired of not being in control. So while Lila's out during the day, he brings Alice out of the crawlspace and pretends to be in a normal relationship, or at least a little more normal than he's used to.

Andrew Paquin describes Open House in the audio commentary track as an home invasion movie with a twist. In most home invasion movies, the invasion is the most brutal event in the movie. Here, David walks through the front door and hides in a very passive way. The film also doesn't take the easy way out when it comes to horror. This isn't Torture Porn, but sets up scares through psychological means. That said, there are a few problems that creep into the film. Firstly, it moves rather slowly. Secondly, David is a sociopath who has an inability to show emotion, which makes him a less compelling character to watch. I really appreciate the attempt to do something new with the genre, even if the end result is not as effective as it could be. Compared to most Direct-to-DVD horror films, it is worth checking out.

On a side note, both Anna Paquin and her True Blood co-star, Stephen Moyer, are prominently on display on the DVD cover. However, both have very limited screen time, so keep that in mind if you are only getting the movie for that reason.

The Extras

I only have the Blu-ray to review, so I'm not 100% sure what is and is not contained on the DVD vs. the Blu-ray. Nothing on the Blu-ray looks like it is a Blu-ray exclusive extra, outside the ability to set bookmarks, that is. Things start out with an audio commentary track with Andrew Paquin and Brian Geraghty, who offer a lot of information and keep the pace moving. There are also three deleted scenes, but not the alternate beginning and ending mentioned in the audio commentary track.

The tech specs are strong, especially when you take into account the budget of this film. (Andre Paquin was hesitant to say exactly what it was, but he did say it was low.) Shot on a digital camera, the picture is nearly flawless with a few quirks that are there due to artistic choices. (There's not a lot of color in this movie, for instance.) The sound is less impressive. It's clear and clean, but the surround sound speakers do not get a huge workout.

The list price of the Blu-ray is just 10% more than the DVD, which is an excellent deal. However, over on Amazon.com, the Blu-ray costs 45% more due to a large disparity in discounts.

The Verdict

Open House does enough right that I can recommend checking it out. It is a whole lot better than most similar movies I've seen. However, there are enough flaws that it is note quite up to a blind buy and I think starting with a rental is best. If the Blu-ray is close to the price of the DVD where you shop, then it is the better deal, but the lack of High Definition extras limits the value of the upgrade.

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Filed under: Video Review, Open House