Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Film Review: The Other Side of the Door (2016)

The Other Side of the Door (Review)
United Kingdom/India/2016
Format Viewed For Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review

"...a hit-or-miss horror film..."

After her son is killed in a car accident in India, a woman attempts to say her final goodbye through a special ritual that allows her to communicate with the dead. When she disobeys a sacred warning, however, she disrupts the fragile balance between life and death...

The Other Side of the Door is a hit-or-miss horror film – in terms of plot and horror. The plot follows Maria (Sarah Wayne Callies), her husband Michael (Christian Slater Jeremy Sisto), and their daughter Lucy (Sofia Rosinsky). Maria is still mourning the death of her son, Oliver, who she had to abandon during a vague car accident. Her housekeeper tells her about a special ritual at a temple that allows one to communicate to the dead. Maria just has to lock herself in the temple. However, she can not open the door for her son. Of course, Maria opens the door. From there, it turns into a fairly predictable but effective horror film. Strange things happen at home, an eerie figure begins to pursue her, and so on. The ending doesn't quite hit home, either, particularly due to a weak performance – which I'll get to in a moment.

Off the bat, The Other Side of the Door is one of those movies. Yes, it's a movie where the characters always do stupid things simply to move the plot forward. In this case, the filmmakers try to cover their tracks with the good ol' sympathy trick. Maria is a grieving mother – of course she's not going to act rationally. I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt, but it still felt utterly contrived. "I know they said 'no,' but I have to!" Aside from this major plot point, there are other plot contrivances scattered throughout the film. It is contrived and predictable – there is no way around those facts.

Does that mean the film is bad? No, not really. In fact, I enjoyed it quite a bit. The Other Side of the Door attempts to blend heartfelt drama with eerie horror. I emphasize 'attempts' because it doesn't always work. There are times where the drama can pull at your heartstrings, then there are those moments that feel fabricated. There are some scenes that are genuinely creepy and suspenseful, but most of the horror is reliant on generic jump-scares. Most of those jump-scares, unfortunately, don't have much suspense to build them up. It is very atmospheric, though. Like I said, it's hit-or-miss stuff.

The acting was good. Sarah Wayne Callies delivers a dedicated performance as the leading lady. Jeremy Sisto is decent, too. Sofia Rosinsky, the child actress, is serviceable. The issue with Rosinsky is a lack of conviction. She works for most scenes, but she just feels so boring and that negatively affects some of the later scenes. The film was shot well, though, and I liked the music. The Other Side of the Door was written by Ernest Riera and Johannes Roberts; Roberts also directs. The writing could have used some fine tuning, especially to cover some of its plot contrivances with a stronger excuse – for want of a better word. Roberts is a competent director. He can craft a few terrifying scenes, but he is surprisingly inconsistent. Some scenes are suspenseful and masterful, others seem lazy and rushed.

Overall, I liked The Other Side of the Door. The film is atmospheric and creepy. I applaud it for taking steps in another direction, too – at least in terms of locale. It is, however, a fairly predictable horror movie. There is something bad for everything good in this film. Well, there's a little more good, but you get the gist. It sits somewhere in the middle.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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