This doesn't have quite the plot that the DVD jacket suggests. Just skimming the jacket blurb, you might think this movie will be about a maniac or two taking up residence in the basement of a house for sale, then creeping out at night after new occupants have taken up residence there. That sounded like a promising premise that plays into a glancing fear many of us might have when we consider buying a house. Did the realtor conscientiously check all the basement cubbyholes, all the closets before locking up after every Open House?
But no, that isn't quite what this movie is about. If anything, it's a reversal of that more predictable theme. In this case, the sociopaths blatantly occupy the body of the house, while the rightful owner gets imprisoned in the basement, left to haunt and perhaps ultimately challenge the intruders.
This is a movie of few words, at least on the part of the male sociopath. There is no burden of back-story here, no Psycho-like epilogue neatly explaining the psychopaths' behavior. This vicious duo dwells in existential space, isolated in their clean, white, new surroundings. The male is a silhouette as he sits on the couch, limned by the sunlight coming in through the window behind. These two drop in from their own universe, reminiscent of the evil that descends in the notable German film, "Funny Games." In this case though, one of the intruders has the redeeming capacity to feel some affection, some empathy.
But the film's overall silences are what make it more memorable than the average maniacs-amok film. It has a trance-like, fairy-tale quality that draws the viewer into its silent spaces, that invites the viewer to fill the vacuums.
"Open House" does include something of a twist. An additional turn of the screw in the already corkscrew psyches of the two home invaders is revealed. The acting in this film is good enough though that you might guess this twist from the beginning. It is always suggested, so it isn't dragged in like a bolt from the blue.
There's a Director/Actor commentary included in this DVD that doesn't add much to our sense of the characters' motivations, but that supplies some easy, supplemental listening. Well wait - not quite. It's not quite "easy listening." Brian Geraghty, the actor who plays the male psychopath in "Open House" occasionally punctuates the commentary with some shadings of dissatisfaction and even askew anger of his own that seem to be reflections, albeit pale reflections, of the attitude of his fictional character. Having come off his starring role in the acclaimed movie "The Hurt Locker," he seems to imply he didn't want to do this lesser film. He wasn't happy. He wouldn't have done it except... This element of undercutting blends in with the cutting and undercutting that goes on in the movie itself. Altogether, the quiet abberations on this DVD make this movie disquieting - and strangely fascinating.