Halloween 2018: The Open House (2018)

Next up on our Halloween marathon journey, the sparse marathon that I’ve seemed to make bad choices all over the place on movies that only seem to have horror elements to this point.  However, this one is a home invasion Netflix original horror called The Open House released earlier this year.

Let’s check it out!

The Open House (2018)

the open house

Directors (and writers): Matt Angel & Suzanne Coote

Cast: Dylan Minnette, Piercey Dalton, Patricia Bethune, Sharif Atkins, Aaron Abrams, Katie Walder

A teenager and his mother find themselves besieged by threatening forces when they move into a new house. – IMDB

Running at a little over 90 minutes, The Open House shouldn’t have been a chore to watch. Its a reasonable length but all this movie did was feel like a waste of time. It took the first half hour to set up the story and get them to the location and in the process of it all and continuing afterwards into a series of unnecessary atmospheric sounds and cliche moments and trying to create eerie moments in some unneeded parts. It feels like this movie is a lesson on less is more. Things can be normal for a moment. It doesn’t have to be intense dramatic scenes all the time. Or posing obvious questions about the odds things happening or “how weird an open house is” but then not noticing a squeaky door crack open in the hallway while standing in the kitchen, for a very  basic example that packs in both nonsense and cliche together.

I don’t like calling movies waste of time because there has to be a mentality of why this movie was greenlit despite my obvious lack of entertainment for it. The lackluster part really goes down to  the ending. Its never been my thing to have perfect bow-tied endings. Its nice to have vague endings in a way and while I try to stay spoiler free, I’ll talk further about what I think about the ending and what it was trying to achieve but didn’t. I could be wrong but if the movie didn’t feel like a eye-rolling cliche fest in the first place, while having a few better moments in the final act, the ending really did it in for me.

So here we go – SPOILER ALERT – highlight if you have seen the movie or don’t plan on seeing it so don’t mind reading about it:

The movie ended with pretty much everyone dead and us never really knowing who the killer is. What their purpose is is a question mark and nothing much else gets answered except our possible suspects pretty much get ruled out. The purpose behind this ending (as ridiculous as I found it) is that sometimes, the mystery is the horror that there is someone preying on open houses and the families in it. The unknown is the chilling factor here. Sometimes things don’t have reasons. 

Like I said, I could be wrong, Sadly, The Open House was executed so poorly that if there was a message, it just didn’t deliver well. There are some redeeming scenes at the end when things get a little more fast-paced but for the most part, its really quite a boring affair that takes too long to start and overdoes it with cliches making it also very predictable on what will happen next. I’m rarely so harsh on films but I have pet peeves specifically about movies and this one ticked off so many of those boxes.

Halloween 2018: Goosebumps (2015)

Goosebumps (2015)

goosebumps

Director: Rob Letterman

Cast: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Ryan Lee, Amy Ryan, Jillian Bell, Halston Sage

A teenager teams up with the daughter of young adult horror author R. L. Stine after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Madison, Delaware. – IMDB

I’ve read a few Goosebumps books back in my elementary school days. It was always a fun time in my memory although I never found it to be scary. However, a series like this one getting a form of adaptation is always one to take notice and with Jack Black, one of my favorite comedic actors in the current day and age attached to the project, it was one that went straight to my to watch pile. Movies like this can border on dumb and silly but Goosebumps turned out to be a little over the top and a tad silly but it was a lot of fun.
This one lands in the same way that Monster Trucks (review) worked for me, maybe with slightly less appealing characters. I’m not exactly a Dylan Minnette fan and don’t quite care for his character here. It was the typical teenage romance thing with the girl next door. His humor along with his best friend are fairly common arcs for family friendly adventure films. A little fluff to add to the equation. Jack Black had an over the top accent that honestly, if it wasn’t him, I probably wouldn’t buy into but at the end, I got used to it so it didn’t feel as odd.

What defines Goosebumps has always been R.L. Stine’s monsters and its nice to see that they pull out all the cards here in one shot. It makes for the fun as they run around town trying to stop catastrophe and encounter a few of them face to face which always turns into a funny and hectic moment. The heart of the movie is in these moments as chaos shapes these characters a little.

Goosebumps is not masterpiece but its a family adventure film that delivers on being entertaining and fun. It shows off the creativity of R.L. Stine for a new generation to respark the childhood horror adventures that many kids went through. There’s really not a whole lot of depth  here to talk more about it. Its a fun time and great for some family fun even if some elements fall a little short.

Fantasia Festival: Don’t Breathe (2016)

The grand finale of the entire Fantasia Film Festival goes to Fede Alvarez’s new movie Don’t Breathe. If you don’t know who he is, he directed the remake of Evil Dead. Much to our surprise, he made it to host the movie as well.

Fantasia Festival

As mentioned in my Twitter post right after, Don’t Breathe was the perfect way to end the festival, at least for my line-up. This year’s movies were all fantastic and many times, breathtaking and full of tension. Don’t Breathe is the cream of the crop.

Don’t Breathe (2016)

Don't Breathe

Director and co-writer: Fede Alvarez

Cast: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Stephen Lang

A group of friends break into the house of a wealthy blind man, thinking they’ll get away with the perfect heist. They’re wrong.-IMDB

Man, could they be more wrong? Obviously they haven’t seen Hush.

Don’t Breathe is the perfect title for this horror thriller. It is a brilliantly horrific story full of shocking twists and turns. Before the movie started, the host of Fantasia called it the perfect way to end because it will have us scared for the next eleven months all the way to next year’s festival. While that isn’t completely true unless you can relate by ever breaking into a blind veteran’s house to rob them (which would be an oddly specific scenario), Don’t Breathe creates a lot of tension in its atmosphere effectively. There a few jump scares but its more the agony of not knowing a territory in the dark. As the audience we see everything even before the characters, that makes us squirm in our seats unsure about what will happen next. At the same time, a lot of merit has to go to the great camera work here. It captures and moves to cause panic but also shows and hides exactly enough to keep it an tense experience.

don't breathe

The first thing right from the start of the movie that we will notice is the emphasis on sound. As everyday people, we don’t always notice the little noises that go on from the things we do to the steps we make to the creaks on the floor. Our characters and surroundings are like that. The movie seems to zero in on the effects from a piece of glass stuck under a shoe making a different effect to the loud rumbles of a car engine. It is because of the heart of the movie being focused on a blind man with these heightened abilities that our senses and the characters also increases. Ours probably before the characters because we would have covered our mouth holding our breath every time the man walks by. Talk about flipping the situation around. They broke in and now they want to break out and survive.

don't breathe

Now that we’ve talked about what happens to the characters a lot, we should talk about them individually. This young burglary team consists of three friends: Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto). They are great friends that grew up together and have stuck together hoping to leave. We never get a glimpse of their backgrounds but its suffice to say that they want out. Rocky and Money more than Alex. While Rocky is the star of the show, she isn’t completely likeable. In fact, she has many flaws except Alex, played incredibly well by Dylan Minnette is the one that we will cheer for. He is the likeable character even if he is the underdog in some ways. He is the loyal friend that sticks around through all of this crazy. However, to say that Jane Levy didn’t do a good job as Rocky would be lying. However, if there was criticism, it would be that our main character is not as well-crafted as she should be. Although, its hard to not bond with her at the end although in many ways, it has to do with a well-written script which constantly thrusts our characters into danger making those small victories mean a lot more when we catch our breath for a split second.

Don't Breathe

The “bad” guy in this one is The Blind Man. We never know his name but he’s wealthy as heck (even if it doesn’t seem that way) and brutal and dangerous. Can we just say how creepy his eyes are, especially in the dark and the way he portrays his motions. The Blind Man is played by Stephen Lang and it was an outstanding job. It emphasizes on the point that being old or losing an ability doesn’t make it weak. In fact, his other senses clearly make up for what he has lost. Don’t Breathe is actually so much more. His character has a story and a pretty shocking one. To discuss more about this would ruin your experience.

Don’t Breathe is a brilliant horror thriller. While the characters may not be all that resounding in majority, you will come out of this remembering the intensity and well-crafted film here. Its full of shocking twists and turns. There’s a lot wrapped up in this thriller and it constantly has something going on that will have you holding your breath. There’s still a few months left in 2016 but this may be one of the front runners. Great job on this one, Fede Alvarez!

*As a side note, just to emphasize how great this movie is. If it is in a theatre near me when it gets released, I’ve already decided to go see it a second time with my husband. That is how much I loved it! Plus, to me, the best horror movies are those that we fear its existence like Lights Out plays on fear of darkness or like believing in supernatural beings makes ghost spirits seem scary. Don’t Breathe is about a situation that won’t likely happen to me and it actually had me genuinely scared and thinking about it even in all its unlikelihood. *

All you lovely readers might also want to know that I’ve decided to add Evil Dead movies to this year’s Halloween marathon and pair it up with something else. I can’t remember what I decided last year.