There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
2020 Netflix Halloween Countdown
As crazy as it is to believe, it is already October 2020—it has been a bizarre year, for sure. For the past three years, I have been spending October watching and reviewing some of the spooky, scary, gory, chilling, and horror-themed movies on Netflix. With each review, I will include a table that ranks these movies from best to worst. This year will be my fourth year doing this, and I plan on publishing a new review each day. Some will be from movies that I have reviewed before, but there will be some new movies on here is well. So if you are looking to get in the Halloween spirit by watching some Halloween-style movies, then these articles are for you!
The Open House
After his father died, leaving them unable to support themselves financially, Logan (Dylan Minnette) and his mother (Piercey Dalton) need somewhere to stay until they can get back on their feet. Fortunately, Logan's aunt is selling her luxurious home and she lets Logan and his mother stay in her house until it is sold. The only catch is that every Sunday is open house. Thus, on Sundays, Logan and his mother have to be out of the house by breakfast, and need to stay out of the house until early evening.
It is an easy enough thing to ask for, considering they are allowed to stay at the home, rent free, for the time being. Unfortunately, strange things start happening in the home. They start getting phone calls on the landline, only to hear breathing on the other end. Their cell phones also mysteriously go missing, and the hot water tank (located in the basement) keeps mysteriously being shut off. They start to feel like they are being targeted, but there is no way of knowing by whom. Every Sunday, the house is open to anyone, so there is no way of knowing who may have gotten inside. Whoever it is, however, it is clear that they are now familiar with the house, and are targeting Logan and his mother.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Acting (+3pts)
Generic Horror (-6pts)
Logan & Naomi (+3pts)
The Plot (-8pts)
Mysterious Antagonist (+3pts)
The Logistics (-4pts)
Pro: The Acting (+3pts)
I would not go as far as to say that any performance in this movie was exceptional. I did, however, feel that the whole cast delivered the performances that their characters needed from them. There was the weird old lady next-door, Martha (Patricia Bethune), who was nice on the surface, but there was definitely something mysterious going on with the character and the actress did a decent job of bringing that mystery to the screen. There was also the performances from Dylan Minnette and Piercey Dalton, who did not blow me away with their performances, but they did a good job of making me buy into the relationship between Logan and his mother. To be really clear, the performances were far from Oscar worthy, but they were effective at making me buy into the characters and their respective stories.
Con: Generic Horror (-6pts)
This was a pretty disappointing issue for me. Unfortunately, the horror throughout this entire movie seemed really generic. It really was not that any of the horror was "bad", but instead, it felt like the filmmakers had a checklist of generic horror moments that they tried desperately to complete. The breathing phone calls were the best example of this, and I do not want to give away any other horror moments (even if I was not a huge fan of them).
It was just that everything in this movie, in terms of horror, was stuff that I have seen done before. To go a step further, it was all stuff that I have seen other movies do better. I did not feel the weight of these moments, and really got the impression that the filmmakers were just going through the motions. They delivered their stereotypical idea of what horror should be, but the scares did not have the impact that the filmmakers desired. The best way that I can explain it was that the horror and the scares were there, but they felt hollow.
Pro: Logan & Naomi (+3pts)
I thought the filmmakers did a pretty good job of establishing the relationship between Logan and his mother, Naomi. The actors certainly contributed to me being able to buy into these characters, but the filmmakers did a good job of setting them up as well. Their relationship felt real, and their shared tragedy (over the death Logan's father) certainly made them more compelling than they would have been otherwise. The plot of this movie needed a lot of work, I will get into that next, but one area that I thought the plot worked well was how it setup Logan and his relationship with his mother.
Con: The Plot (-8pts)
The plot was easily the worst thing going for this movie, and it was definitely a contributing factor to my issues with the horror. It was almost as if the filmmakers had a bunch of horror moments that they wanted in this movie, then they threw together a rough, lazy plot in order to string those horror moments together. I also did not buy that Logan and Naomi would not have just left the house when weird things started happening, and I did not by the far-fetched things that were happening to them. The filmmakers try to say that the characters were tight on money, but if you thought your life was in danger, you would figure something else out.
There also seemed to be no rhyme or reason to what the antagonist was doing. They seemed to do random things because the filmmakers thought that those were creepy things to do. There was no practical reason for the antagonist to do some of the things that they did throughout this movie. It was just the filmmakers way of forcing more creepy moments into the movie, even if it meant their characters were not making any sense. The thing with the contact lenses was really dumb, and I really have no idea why the antagonist felt the urge to do that. I could go on for awhile and give more and more examples, because there was just so much wrong about the plot to this movie. The filmmakers clearly did not give the plot much thought at all. They just slapped it together as a lazy excuse to pump out a cheap horror movie.
Pro: Mysterious Antagonist (+3pts)
I will give the filmmakers some credit here, the antagonist was definitely mysterious. I always hate when filmmakers explain their antagonists too much, because it can start to humanize them. There are some stories where humanizing the villain makes sense, but horror movies are rarely such movies. When filmmakers do this, they risk ruining their the most compelling part of their antagonists.
By shedding a light on the shadow that is your horror movie antagonist, it takes some of the magic (so to speak) out of the story. The filmmakers of this movie never attempted to do this. To be fair, based on how poorly they handled the plot of this movie, this may just have been a happy accident. The filmmakers may not have had a story to tell, and giving the antagonist no development was their way of avoiding their poorly developed character. However, it worked for this movie, as the antagonist was always mysterious. You never quite know what the antagonist wants, or what their intentions are, which makes them feel both unpredictable and dangerous.
Con: The Logistics (-4pts)
The more I think about the antagonist of this movie, the less sense they make. I liked that the antagonist was mysterious and not over-explained, but a little explanation would have gone a long way in making this movie feel less like a lazily strung together series of random events. What the antagonist was doing made no sense, but it went further than that. Instead, the longer the movie went on, it became more and more obvious that the filmmakers had no plan here.
They had no plan, regarding what the antagonist was doing or why. How could the antagonist have known people, who the antagonist could terrorize, were staying in the house throughout the week? Does the antagonist just travel from open house to open house hoping for this exact situation? How could they have assumed the protagonists were financially stuck in the house, which I feel like is very uncommon? In order for this movie to happen, the antagonist had to make a number of wild assumptions, and needed the protagonists to this coincidentally perfect scenario (a scenario that is extremely uncommon). The point that I am trying to make is, as soon as you start thinking about the antagonist, massive, mammoth-sized holes start tearing their way into the entire plot of this movie.
Grade: D+ (66pts)
This movie had a couple of decent performances. Dylan Minnette and Piercey Dalton played the two main characters, and while they did not deliver performances that will blow you away or even save this movie, they did deliver the performances that their respective roles needed from them. Due to those performances, and the decent development of these two characters by the writers, I totally bought into the mother-son relationship between Logan and Naomi. Unfortunately, The Open House did not have much else going for it.
Its antagonist was mysterious, but the filmmakers sacrificed this character's logic in order to deliver more horror moments. In other words, nothing this character did made any sense. I also did not buy that the main characters would have stayed in the house as long as they did. The movie was full of plot issues, but they can all be summed up to lazy writing. The filmmakers delivered a lazy plot to string together the horror moments, which made it hard to connect with the story and it made the horror feel hollow. I went into this movie like I go into any movie, hoping to enjoy it. Unfortunately, this was a lazily made movie that had a plot which made no sense at all, and horror that fell very flat as a result.
Train to Busan
In the Tall Grass
The Babysitter: Killer Queen
Hold the Dark
Would You Rather
The Open House
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House