"You must never open the door."
I have a confession to make, I wasn’t actually planning to review this movie. I didn’t even feel like watching it, but I thought if it lived up to my expectations it would act as a nice contrast to another horror film I recently was and will be reviewing very shortly. Luckily ‘The Other Side of the Door’ delivered exactly what I thought it would because it is truly terrible.
A family living in Mumbai have recently lost their son in a tragic accident. When the mother (Sarah Wayne Callies) learns of a mysterious temple where one can find a door separating the land of the dead and the living through which she can communicate with her son, she ventures out to find it. There is only one rule, never open the door….. So what do you think it going to happen?
So immediately the movie is already an overly familiar ghost story setup, with a plot as predictable as one could possibly imagine. In case you hadn’t guessed it, the mother (brace yourself for this shocking turn of events), opens the door. It not only steals the plot from about a dozen other superior horror movies, it borrows certain shots, characterisations, images, props, creatures, ultimatums and twists and open ended finale’s and just throes them into this mess of a movie.
What is particularly remarkable about ‘The Other Side of the Door’ is just how nonsensical it is. You would think that for a film cobbled together of every formulaic horror cliché imaginable that it would at the very least make sense, but no. The film breaks its own sense of logic so many times that one doesn’t even have to nit-pick to find problems. But it’s fun to nit-pick this kind of film so I’m going to anyway. A family inexplicably decides to uproot themselves and move permanently to India, for some reason, their housekeeper is somehow there to explain every local superstition and custom to them one after the other, the forbidden door that unleashes horror (and I use that word in the loosest possible term) is unguarded and unlocked, for just any regular person to open. Confused? Just wait, we’re only getting started.
There are so many scenes that are there purely just to provide a cheap jump scare, they don’t move the narrative forward, enhance the characters or even make sense within the context of the film. They just exist, because of ghosts. That is basically all the explanation you get as to why mangled corpses suddenly spring to life, insects crawl over their food or all the wildlife around their house withers and dies (apart from the dog for some reason, so he can be used as a lazy plot device later). It doesn’t need to make sense it just has to be scary, but it doesn’t even do that.
The film relies so heavily on cheap jump scares and heavy handed imagery that I started to laugh out loud while watching it. One of the most blatant examples of sheer laziness is the fact that every now and then we hear a phone call from the father, saying he has to work later and won’t be home for another few hours. They had nothing to do with his character so they just found every possible excuse not to include him. Even when he is on screen he’s reduced to the token “I don’t believe in this ghost stuff” character.
Throughout the actin remains cringe-worthy and ultimately just depressing. Not depressing in a way that conveys an inner sadness from the themes of the film, just depressing because this was the take they used, what the hell did they cut out. Maybe Callies stands out as someone who, at the very least, is attempting to express more than what is on the pages of this god awful script. But even that falls flat as it’s hard to connect with a protagonist who is just so utterly idiotic. But all of her actions are explained away in the name of paternal love, like digging up the corpse of her child to get into the temple, or burning all of his possessions and allowing her daughter to become possessed (hold on does she actually love her children, because I can’t help but think that these are not things a loving parent would really do).
Another prime example of how not to make a horror film.
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