Stars: Mitch Holden, Chelsea Gilligan, Nicholas Bianchi, Robin De Lano, Leann Donovan, Jason Faunt | Written by Nicholas Bianchi | Directed by Norman Lesperance
Not to be confused with The Other Side of the Door (something which seems to have plagued this films Amazon page), Door to the Other Side is actually a retitling of Norman Lesperance’s Reclusion. Now Lesperance may not be a name many will recognise, but he’s the man responsible for the short Killing Tarantino, which went viral a few years ago. He is also the co-writer and co-director of Future Murder, a little seen thriller from 2000 which is probably now more famous for being the debut feature of André Øvredal, who has since found fame for his films Troll Hunter and The Autopsy of Jane Doe.
Door to the Other Side tells the story of Tim, a man who lives his life as a shut-in. Except for visits from his psychologist and his neighbour, who does his shoping, he has successfully cut himself off from the outside world. When he learns he will be evicted from the sanctuary he has created, the very fabric of his sanity begins to tear. Strange things begin to happen, as the pressure of re-engaging with the outside mounts. Is he imagining these events, as stress wreaks havoc on his fracturing psyche? Or is reality grimmer; is he haunted by a sinister presence which preys upon those trying to help him?
A slow-burning horror if ever there was one, Door to the Other Side is best described as yet another attempt at capturing what made J-horror so great, only decades too late. The film opens strong, with an impressive scene featuring a young girl terrified by what lurks under the bed – a “thing” which takes her mother in the pre-credits sequence. And sadly it’s all downhill from there… Whilst we’re supposed to feel sorry for agoraphobic Tim, one can’t help but actually be annoyed by him – his insistence on deep breathing, the sheer odd behaviour, it adds up to an unlikeable character. Which then spoils any attempt by Lesperance and co. to elicit empathy for him and in turn prevents the audience from ever really engaging with the story enough to become embroiled in the what or why of what we’re presented with.
There are a few stand-out scenes, as Lesperance tries to ramp up the tension and the scares but they can’t compensate for a film that is as cliched and predictable as this. At the outset you know that this film is going to go down one of a number of paths: Tim is a disturbed individual; there actually ARE ghosts; Tim’s neighbours are in on it; or Door to the Other Side will have an out of left-field plot twist and/or ending. I’ll leave you to watch the film to find out which one it true; but let’s just say, that when the reveal comes, after what seems like an eternity of groaning at the tropes rolled out by the filmmakers, you can’t help but respond “why bother?”
Ultimately a muddled and vague horror that evokes feelings of disappointment rather than terror, Lesperance’s film at least has one thing going for it – it’s one of the only horror films to use sleep apnea as a tool for terror!
Door to the Other Side is out now on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.