Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
August 1st, 2010

Open House

Open House
The Norliss Tapes
Directed By Andrew Paquin
Written By Andrew Paquin
Starring Anna Paquin, Brian Geraghty, Stephen Moyer, Tricia Helfer
Produced by Danny Roth, Jay Schuster, Mitchell Goldman
87 mins

When I first saw the trailers start to come out for Open House, I found myself leery of seeing it. It looked like yet another giant pile of torture porn where random psychopaths would do their worst and get off scot-free, as though trying to suck all hope out of the audience. But after I saw Open House, I found something a lot different from what I was expecting.

Though on some levels, Open House is business as usual--a couple is trying to sell their home while facing divorce, until from out of nowhere, a childlike psychopath descends on the home and takes the wife prisoner. And as the childlike psychopath takes over the house, killing those who get too near, the wife has to figure out how she's going to escape...and what she may have to do to get out alive.

It's one part Funny Games and one part Fatal Attraction, and as it turns out, that's a pretty striking combination. See, this isn't so much about the torture as it is the interplay between the wife and her captor. Sure, there's plenty of incidental killing and some interesting twists, but it's basically this big cat and mouse game, where the cat and mouse are in the same room, for about ninety minutes. It's often very subtle, and the end result is a huge surprise.

Oh, it's not without its problems--it's boring in some parts, it's a little too ready to do some murderin', but in the end, it never forgets that it's TRYING to be subtle. That means something, especially in an era where horror movies are often straight up killfests. I like that this one tried to be different.

And the ending will be a nice explosive end to a package that stressed subtlety from the word go--plus there will be a not too unexpected twist to wrap things up.

The special features include a commentary track, English and Spanish subtitles, a selection of deleted scenes, and trailers for Open House, Kick Ass, Beatdown, Circle of Pain, The Neighbor, Small Town Saturday Night, and Caught in the Crossfire.

All in all, Open House tried, and tried hard, to be a good, subtle horror flick. It didn't always succeed, but it never stopped doing its best. And as such, it ranks pretty high among the field of competitors out there.


Neighbor -- visceral torture porn
zero stars
Directed by Robert Angelo Masciantonio
Written by Robert Angelo Masciantonio
Starring America Olivo, Mink Stole, Christian Campbell, Joe Aniska
Produced by Charles St. John Smith III
90 mins

Remember the name, folks. Remember the name Robert Angelo Masciantonio, and then remember to stay far away from ANYTHING his name is attached to. I don't care if it's attached to a package of rich fudgy brownies,

Frankly, this is some of the most godawful drivel I've seen in some time. Apparently no one bothered to ship Masciantonio the memo that torture porn went out back in like 2008, because that's all this is. One long sequence of torture and eventually kill and then move onto the next target. And When I say "long sequence of torture", I MEAN long sequences of torture. This will go on for what seems like hours, but only lasts maybe twenty minutes or so. Then they're going to go on this bizarre temporal romp in which we jump from event to event with little or no preamble, so not only is it reprehensible, it's also baffling.

Oh, and in what may well be the biggest ego trip I've seen in some time, the movie that our boy wakes up to is the closing credits of Masciantonio's Cold Hearts, which, if it's as lousy as this one is, pretty much begs to be stayed far away from. Plus they'll even throw in a framed poster, as if I wanted to see a minute more of Masciantonio's disastrous oeuvre.

I thought Ulli Lommel was bad but this movie is utterly beyond redemption. It's like some kind of parody of Groundhog Day only cast as a perverse torture fantasy. I've seen some truly epic disasters in my day but this revolting pile of garbage may well be beyond the pale of anything I've seen yet.

In case you haven't caught on by now, I seriously recommend you stay as far away from this massive jar of cinematic ipecac as possible. It's incomprehensible, it's revolting, in fact, go get your thesaurus and insert your favorite term for insulting sludge right here.

I literally can't say enough bad about it. There are not enough words in the English language to sufficiently describe this atrocity.

The ending is blessed relief. It means I'm done watching this abomination.

The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, a pair of commentary tracks, a behind the scenes featurette, a featurette of the fight scenes, a featurette on the special effects, a gag reel (though let's be honest, the movie did enough gag inducing as it was), a music video, and trailers for Neighbor, The Expendables, From Paris With Love, Caught in the Crossfire, and Open House.

All in all, this is horrible. Just horrible. Stay as far away from this insulting montage of torture with absolutely no point to it as possible. It has no redeeming features, and by its very existence, demeans horror fans everywhere.