Tribeca Film Festival Dispatch: Open House

04/30/2010 1:03 PM |


Open House, an irredeemably nasty home-invasion film, revels in throat slittings and belt beatings. To what end? None, beyond that its repugnance reflects its emetic sexual politics. The debut for director Andrew Paquin, whose highest-profile credit to date was a producer on Renee Zellweger rom-com New in Town, the movie serves as a cautionary tale about the sexual self-realization of the female. The Hurt Locker’s Brian Geraghty stars as David, the unsmiling and doe-eyed facilitator of black widow Lila (Tricia Helfer), who likes to be secretly filmed fucking her prey before (literally) stabbing it in the back. (This might seem like a statement on voyeurism, but it’s not.) The couple, the nature of whose relationship remains ambiguous for much of the movie, has taken over the on-the-market house belonging to Alice (Rachel Blanchard), who spends the bulk of the movie held captive in a basement crawl space, like a secret pet the boyish David is hiding from his stern mommy. Though he was supposed to, David has kindly neglected to kill her, in contrast to her quickly dispatched biffle (played by director’s sister Anna; brother-in-law to-be Stephen Moyer also turns up for a quick death—it’s true[ly] blood[y]!)

David is no innocent—in fact, he does most of the killing here, including the Hispanic housecleaners (this might seem like a statement on class, but it isn’t), but he does so under the sexual spell of his dominatrix. (As one shot not so subtly suggests, his knife is a dick.) He’s sympathetic; when Alice pushes him, he expresses the desire to change. But he’s no match for Lila’s wiles, and instead plays the emasculated hubby in the game of house the two are playing: he does the cooking and the washing up; he stays at home during the day. It’s the kind of home into which people are always popping—exes, window washers, friends from work—providing plenty of slaughterables for the dutiful David. But even if they lived in total seclusion, hyper-hottie Lila would bring the quarry, like the real estate agent and the dinner party guests, including a bisexual babe and her porn-star partner. She offs those who fuck her and those who don’t; she even engages in a bit of incest. Why? Because this is what unrestrained female sexuality looks like! (The other female character, Alice, is essentially sexless—she’s about to be divorced—and not coincidentally, also the movie’s good gal.) The ending even leaves the movie open for a sequel: so powerful is the sexy bitch that no one can defeat her—not even the virtuously chaste.

Open House’s final festival screening is tonight at 10:30 p.m. More information here.