Director – Jag Mundhra
Cast – Joseph Bottoms, Adrienne Barbeau, Rudy Ramos, Mary Stavin, Scott Thompson Baker, Darwyn Swalve, Robert Miano, Page Mosely, Johnny Haymer, Leonard Lightfoot, Barry Hope, Stacey Adams, Roxanne Baird, Tiffany Bolling, Dena Drotar
Release Year – 1987
Reviewed by John of the Dead
While the 80s is known as the era that delivered numerous awesome cheezy slasher films to us horror fans, the slasher sub-genre began to lose its steam in the late 80s, and 1987’s Open House is one of those films. We are given a unique storyline that I had yet to see used in the slasher scene, but the film’s mediocre writing and execution kept it from achieving anything other than a mediocre status in my eyes.
The city of Los Angeles is suffering a string of heinous murders involving real estate agents being hacked up in the homes they are showing. When popular radio psychologist Dr. blah blah receives a call from someone he believes to be the killer, he cooperates with police, but his problems are only beginning when he and his real estate agent girlfriend come too close for comfort with this savage killer.
I had never before come across a slasher film involving someone killing off real estate agents hard at work, so I found that element pretty enjoyable because it added some originality to this convoluted sub-genre. Several other unique ideas are thrown into the plot, and while this overall plot was enjoyable it did come with many faults. First off, the pacing was irregular, with positive sequences of interesting material that would then be followed by long bouts of unnecessary scenes that only added to the film’s slightly long runtime. Some of you may be thinking “How is 95 minutes a long runtime?”, and I must say that in all actuality it isn’t, unless you do not have the material for a 95 minute runtime, and that is the case with Open House. Had more scenes involving the killer been thrown into the mix then I feel that the runtime would have been justified, but the screenplay included way too many needless scenes that would barely support an 80 minute runtime, barely. Despite the numerous worthless scenes, we did get some cool ideas thrown into the mix, especially involving the killer. His reasoning behind his killings was an interesting one, involving the privileged lives that ungrateful people live and the way the less-fortunate see them. This idea was not used to its fullest potential, but it gave me enough to appreciate it.
Director Jag Mundhra is the leading reason behind the failure of Open House, which has everything to do with his execution of the film. Time and time again I found myself chuckling at just how bad some scenes were, and they came as a result of crappy camerawork coupled with cheap editing. I understand that this is definitely a low-budget effort even with Adrienne Barbeau taking on one of the leading roles, so I do not completely fault Mundhra as a bad director, just a mediocre one without much to work with. We do get some pretty cool kill scenes and a positively executed killer, but the level of gore is fairly low, with most of it coming during the aftermath of the scene, not as the killing is taking place.
Overall, Open House is a truly mediocre-at-best slasher film that despite its cool overall plot suffers from bad execution of both writing and direction. We get some good kills and a positive killer, but the film’s low-budget feel is very obvious, but Adrienne Barbeau’s nude scene may make up for that.