When is a Netflix Original not a Netflix original? What about when the film makers create it themselves and Netflix buy it from them, but still put ‘Netflix Original’ on it anyway?
That’s the situation with The Open House, an independent film made for just $100,000, yet purchased by Netflix who then decided to call it a ‘Netflix Original’. This has prompted many, wrongly, to believe that The Open House was given the same budget of, say, Bright, which was reportedly $100 million! You can read our exclusive interview with creators Matt Angel & Suzanne Coote about exactly that, here.
He lives a happy life with his mother Naomi, Piercey Dalton (Chocolate (Short), The Orchard), and father Brian, Aaron Abrams (Hannibal (TV), Blindspot (TV)), that is until Brian is killed in a car accident leaving the two of them alone and broke.
To get away from things they take off to spend some time at Naomi’s sister’s mansion which is situated off the beaten track, surrounded by woodland.
The house is large, massive and creepy and is up for sale, a local realtor running an open house on the weekend for any potential buyers. As friendly neighbour Martha, Patricia Bethune (True Blood (TV), Grey’s Anatomy (TV)), who is suffering from Alzheimer’s points out; houses in the area take a long time to sell.
Logan also happens to mention just how odd the concept of an open house is; giving your keys to a stranger and allowing them to let anyone who wants to come in and wander round.
After the first open house, strange things begin happening around the house. The boiler regularly switches itself off, usually why Naomi is in the shower, Logan’s phone goes missing and things are mysteriously moved from one room to another.
The police reckon it’s just local kids playing pranks on the newcomers to the town, but Logan isn’t convinced and persuades local man Chris, Sharif Atkins (White Collar (TV), ER (TV)) to help check the house out one evening.
It’s during this evening that everything comes to a head and what’s been happening is revealed. Spooky goings on or something more sinister? The Open House will reveal all.
Relative newcomers Matt Angel (best known as an actor in things like Funhouse Massacre and The Orchard) and Suzanne Coote (Welcome Home, Lee (Short)) are the writers and directors behind The Open House.
The performances from our two main leads are good, Minnette does the teen angst thing well and it’s the moments where he and Dalton are at each other’s throats that the film really comes alive.
The Open House isn’t a horror film, it’s wrong to think of it as such and I think this may go some way to explaining some of the poor reviews it’s been receiving.
What Angel and Coote’s have done is create a movie that makes you think, it allows you, nay requires you to fill in the blanks yourself. It’s not going to spoon feed you the answers, it’s not going to hold your hand as a lot of thrillers do.
That, perhaps, is also its downfall. At a time when series runs are doing so well, arguably kicked off by Netflix, it’s a brave decision to not go down the series run with The Open House rather than a feature film. As a film, The Open House feels like an extended version of the first episode of a series.
It sets things up, introduces us to some characters, some ideas, a premise, takes us on a slight journey through but then ends just as a series would usually be kicking into gear. This has been frustrating to some, frustrations I admit I’m struggling to understand.
For me The Open House, whilst not without some issues and some familiar tropes, is a very clever piece of work. Filled with wide shots to force you to think about scenes, some nice performances and a subtleness we rarely see in this genre these days.
19th January 2018
THE QUICK SELL
When is a Netflix Original not a Netflix original? What about when the film makers create it themselves and Netflix buy it from them, but still put 'Netflix Original' on it anyway?