Open House (1987)
Dir. Jag Mundhra
Written By: David M. Evans (THE SANDLOT. Really.)
Starring Joseph Bottoms, Adrienne Barbeau,
This is a dull and unimaginative slasher from the late-80s glut of dull and unimaginative slashers, the gimmick this time being that the people being killed are all real estate agents, and the killer is seen eating dog food. If you think that’s enough to sustain a whole 95 minutes, man, I like your optimism, but you’re playing real long odds there.
The only thing of any interest here at all is the weird politics of who the killer is. It turns out (when I write “it turns out”, it usually means that a SPOILER is coming) that the killer is a homeless guy who was squatting in the abandoned homes which are being sold by the intolerable yuppie real estate agents, essentially putting him back on the streets. He correctly points out that the real estate market makes people rich by forever speculating the prices of houses upward, making it impossible for a guy like him to get by. And what does he get for his sad tale? Shot in the forehead and kicked in the balls for comedy (and not even by a main character), so out rich heroes can get back to making their 6% commission. I think we’re really supposed to find him repulsive, but he’s the only mildly interesting character anywhere in sight, (actor Darwyn Swalve is a big guy, but with a soft, shy voice and adds a little bit of color here) and shit, that is a pretty fucking sad story which no one bothers to refute. They just don’t give a shit and would like him to go away. The 80s, man.
Otherwise, the film is notable only for the dire boredom it produces during most of it’s runtime, which concerns Adrienne Barbeau working on real estate deals (really! she doesn’t have anything to do with the killer until the very last scene) and Joseph Bottoms working as a radio psychologist who occasionally gets rambling calls from the killer (most of which we don’t hear) and struggles with the gripping drama of... keeping him on the phone. Just awful. Oh, and it’s kind of funny in the couple of occasions the rare murders occur, because the film overplays the shock of them to ludicrous levels. One lady, encountering a body, screams for I think almost two whole minutes as the camera cuts backs and forth, back and forth, over and over, between her face and the body, and then the scene ends. Probably because they just ran out of film. Another kill lingers on the body for a ridiculous almost 40 seconds of screentime, while I suspect the director wandered off to get a coffee. It’s rarely that amusingly incompetent, though -- mostly just crushingly bland. For it’s insufferable boringness, lame kills, and creepy 80s politics, this one gets my coveted AVOID AT ALL COSTS rating.
On the other hand, Eddie Wong, who played Liu Kang in the Mortal Kombat 3 video game (not movie) has a cameo as a homebuyer, so that forgives a lot. For more dumping on this movie, check out Dan P's alternate take as ABBOT AND COSTELLO ENCOUNTER THE AMORAL ISOLATION AT THE SOUL OF THE 1980s.