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Open House

Director: Andrew Paquin
Cast: Brian Geraghty, Rachel Blanchard, Anna Paquin, Tricia Helfer, Stephen Moyer

(US DVD: 3 Aug 2010)

For a straight-to-DVD movie few have ever heard of, this thing sure boasts a lot of talent. Or at least, that’s how it appears when you pick it up off the shelf at the good old Video Store. Since it appears to star such cult draws as Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer (True Blood), Rachel Blanchard (Peep Show), Brian Geraghty (The Hurt Locker), and Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Gallactica), I, for one, was intrigued to see what this was all about.


Turns out: not much. This lazy, confusing, and generally dull splatterfest was directed by none other than Anna Paquin’s brother, and it seems that he called in a few favours. While Blanchard and Helfer offer typically strong performances with the weak material they have to work with, Paquin and her real-life husband Moyer are here mostly, one is left to assume, so that they can be advertised as its stars.


Paquin, hilariously, has two lines before being killed offscreen. An extra could have played this “part”. And yet, there she is on the DVD cover, standing in front of the actual lead actors in the film. Though not the movie’s fault – this is surely a marketing decision made by the folks at Stone Brook Entertainment – it still causes one to feel cheated, duped, annoyed, and disappointed, which is not a good mood to be in when watching the rest of this junkpile.


Because, apart from the unfortunate casting and absurdly misleading advertising, the movie stinks. Like so many failed horror flicks before it, Open House begins with a spooky premise, and then squanders every ounce of creativity that might have been born of it. A young couple (Blanchard and Moyer) are in the midst of a break-up, and are trying to sell the marital home. They hold an “open house”, and show the place to all sorts of folks who wander in off the street (as one does).


However, one of the people who comes in to see the place never leaves. He is hiding in the basement, waiting, plotting, and preparing. That’s some pretty terrifying stuff, right? The problem is: where to go from here?


Writer-director Andrew Paquin’s answer is: unimaginative bloody killing, random sketchy characterizations, a few off-kilter lessons in criminal psychology, a little brother-on-sister action, and some borderline torture porn. It’s immensely boring to watch, and otherwise completely undemanding of the viewer’s intellect.


Though the performances are all impressive – Blanchard spends much of the movie either tied up in a closet or mutely following the orders of her captors and yet still manages to be compelling, and Geraghty comes across as steely and terrifying – the plot, direction, script, and effects (especially the jammy blood) do all they can to detract from their work. Don’t waste your time. 


This DVD comes with extras including a feature-length commentary from the director in which he apologises at length for bringing in his famous and talented sister just to trick viewers into coming to see his m… oh.

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Stuart Henderson is a culture critic and historian. He is the author of Making the Scene: Yorkville and Hip Toronto in the 1960s (University of Toronto Press, 2011). All of this is fun, but he'd rather be camping. Twitter: @henderstu


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