Open House

Does anyone else remember when an actor or actress had to star in a film in order for their face to appear on the box? It seems those days are past us. Open House proudly bears the faces and names of True Blood’s royal pair Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin. Imagine my surprise, then, when between them they only get about five minutes screen time.

So, Open House is not about Moyer and Paquin. It is however, about some other characters. The story sees Alice (Rachel Blanchard), in the midst of divorcing Josh (Moyer), hold an ‘open house’ event to try and sell her home. Except, afterwards, stony-faced psychopath David (Brian Geraghty) hides away in the house, butchers Alice’s friend (Paquin) and keeps Alice hostage.

A simple murderous nut-job..? Not quite. David then moves in, along with sister-cum-lover Lila (Tricia Helfer – of Battlestar Galactica fame), and they have a happy time murdering anyone who drops by – with David all the while keeping Alice tied up in the basement, and a secret from Lila.

It’s honestly not that hard to see where this is going to go. I had it pegged early on, and anyone watching it with a drop of intelligence will be able to see the plot direction a mile off. Which isn’t, necessarily, a game breaker, as I get the distinct impression that the director (Paquin’s brother, explaining her involvement, if not her prominence on the box art) was trying for a more character-central piece.

Except, none of the characters struck me as deep enough to stand up to any examination. Alice is a woman coming to terms with her impending divorce. Josh is a chauvinistic playboy. David is an emotionally-stunted psychopath. And Lila is an equally damaged, equally psychotic seductress. None of them provide anything more than a cardboard cut-out.

The relationship between David and Lila does provide a little interest. It comes across as a twist on the Norman Bates and his mother relationship from Psycho, with a romantic/ incestuous edge. But the film drip-feeds information and characterisation at such a slow rate that it hinders the story, rather than advances it. Intrigue becomes frustration, and whilst Geraghty plays an excellent emotionless psycho, his character seems inconsistent and hard to understand – let alone sympathise with – his changes of heart.

Overall, it’s a fair effort. As Andrew Paquin’s first film, it has production values that speak to the capital his name has doubtless put behind it, but it falls a bit flat. There’s no impetus to the story, no curiosity in the characters. It tries, but in the end misses its target, and leaves the audience feeling rather flat.