“Hostage House” is a half-speed thriller about a real estate agent trapped in the “open house” from hell.
Stop grinning and clapping with glee. Yes, I know that “she probably had it coming” is a lot of people’s first reaction to that scenario. But let’s be bigger than our worst or most annoying “realtor” experiences, shall we?
Jennifer Taylor of “Shameless” and “Two and Half Men” is struggling agent Susan Daniels, trying to get her smart-mouthed daughter (Julia Terranova) out the door to college so that she can sell their house, and maybe sell this Everett Canyon mansion, with “70 fenced in acres” she’s just landed as a listing so that she can get them out of debt.
We see the “5/4” with its “game room,” in-house theater, CCTV cameras and lockdown systems via Susan’s tours on open house day.
Heather drops by to surprise her at day’s end. But they can’t get out the door without noticing the police sirens, lights and helicopters. And that last car pulling up the drive might be that one “over asking price” offer. Or it might be just who the cops are looking for.
The blood on Keith’s hand, which we see even though Susan doesn’t, answers that question. Bleeding Keith (Justin C. Schilling) and trigger-finger Natalie (Emily Sweet) tie Susan up, and figure out Heather’s there, too. Eventually.
It’s not just the threat of violence that turns this into torture. It’s Natalie’s mealy-mouthed lectures on the “entitled” class, “the haves and the have-mores” that she’d like to be robbing.
“Folks like you, your idea of being broke is having to skimp on your yearly trip to Cabo!”
There’s often a little DIY surgery in such pictures, and inevitably somebody says “the good news is the bullet went right through” and “this is gonna hurt.” You hear that often enough and you’d swear screenwriters are recycling from the same worn out source.
The movie is flatly-acted, blandly plotted and pretty much stillborn until we’re treated to a flash of what real estate hustlers are supposed to be good at shows itself — negotiating, getting “a deal.” But even that never heats up to lukewarm.
The “escapes” and “near escapes” are dull versions of such situations seen in many a tepid thriller that preceded this one.
“Hostage House” makes the viewer feel like the hostage.
MPA Rating: TV-14, violence, some profanity
Cast: Jennifer Taylor, Emily Sweet, Julia Terranova, Justin C. Schilling, Richard Neil
Credits: Directed by David Benullo, script by Daniel West. A MarVista release on Netflix.
Running time: 1:26