Wednesday, October 05, 2016

30 Days of Nightmares #5: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR (2016)

The Story: American mom Maria recently lost her son in a freak car accident in Bombay.  Her Indian housekeeper suggests that she go to a Hindu temple “where the door between worlds is thin,” to reconnect with her son one last time.  But, the myopic temptress warns, “don’t open the door.”  Guess what happens.

Expectations: The synopsis reminded me of DON’T LOOK NOW, a genuinely haunting film about the loss of a child.  The title reminded me of my childhood hopes for POLTERGEIST 2: I wanted to see “the other side.”  I didn’t go into this one with such high expectations.  I just wanted an effectively eerie supernatural thriller.  The film was produced by Alexandre Aja… so I figured it couldn’t be too far off the mark.

Reaction: Despite good production values, this is a paint-by-numbers horror movie. The backstory about the death of Maria’s son (and her subsequent suicide attempt) seemed cursory.  Ditto the Hindu housekeeper’s advice.  “If you want to see your son again, go to my hometown and visit this sacred temple.”  Really?   That’s it?!   Maria never appears to wrestle with any kind of disbelief.  The filmmaker doesn't even offer a snide moment of “Oh those wacky Hindoos.”  She just goes.  And, of course, opens the door…. because the paper-thin plotline demands it.

I might not have been so annoyed by this movie if I hadn’t seen the potential for a more interesting horror movie—one that explored a different culture / set of religious beliefs, and fed off of the exoticism of the unknown.  But the setting is just a thin excuse for access to an ancient temple, which is really just thin excuse for this movie.  

After about an hour of setup, the film does muster a few good jump scares, but for me it was too little too late.  Maria’s dead son Oliver follows her home.  Except, of course, he’s not Oliver anymore.  “He’s… Evil.”  (Gee.  Didn't see that coming.)  The rest of the film reminded me of the superior STIR OF ECHOES, which delved much deeper into the nature of obsession and speculations about what's on the other side of the door.  Unfortunately, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR doesn’t care much about speculations.  Just jump scares.  Well-executed but obvious, superficial jump scares.  I note one exception....

Most Nightmare-Worthy Moment: “Not that man, mommy…. That man.”  If only there had been more scenes like this!

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