Dylan Minnette has built quite the career for himself in recent years playing sullen teenagers in Don’t Breathe, 13 Reasons Why, Goosebumps, and others. He’s at it again here in The Open House, but his one note performance is more a problem here where everyone and everything is sullen and lifeless. In fact, this is the least exciting horror film I’ve seen in years.
Dylan stars as Logan, and along with his mom Naomi they are really left to carry this film alone on their shoulders. Occasional other characters pop in, but almost as afterthoughts. The main focus of this film is Logan and Naomi slowly walking up and down the halls of an enormous house in the mountains. That might be fun if the house itself was given any character, but every time you think they might showcase an interesting nook or cranny the film pulls back as if to say, “Nah, too interesting.” Instead, an unusual amount of time is spent focused on the hot water heater. Seriously, it deserves third billing. Eventually everything comes to a head in the least exciting or plausible climax imaginable.
I’m being intentionally vague so as not to spoil anything, but I think I might actually be doing you a favor if I did. Several times throughout this film I got the distinct impression it might be based on a young adult novel. Logan is the clear focus and mother Naomi seems more a tag-along than a real character. Add to that the fact that nothing really happens for most of the film’s running time until the last ten minutes or so. That, however, is when it goes super dark for no explainable reason. It’s not really scary—instead venturing into almost torture porn territory. Who is this film for? It’s too dark for kids and too boring for teens.