31st Jan2020

‘Door In The Woods’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Jennifer Pierce Mathus, David Rees Snell, CJ Jones, John-Michael Fisher, Katherine Forbes, Cassie Self, Elisabeth Bate, Mark Landon Smith | Written and Directed by Billy Chase Goforth

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I quite like the title Door In The Woods and the images it conjures up. In my head I had some kind of weird horror version of Monsters Inc. Where a door acted like some kind of portal to other worlds or maybe open our world to all kinds of beasts and monsters. There are endless possibilities, and while this film does, kind of, attempt some of these on a low budget, it maybe doesn’t have quite enough ambition.

For starters, the door doesn’t stay in the woods for very long. The central family in the story go for a hike and discover this door. They decide (well the mum of the family decides) that the door would be perfect for their house, so they chuck it in their truck, give it a quick upcycle and put it in place. This might sound a bit ridiculous but actually I think if I found a cool-looking old door in the woods, I’d probably try to take it home too. And far more ridiculous things happen in this movie to worry too much about that.

I actually quite enjoyed the first half of Door In The Woods. It builds a nice backstory and introduces the characters well enough. The lead actors put in decent performances with everything feeling natural. They’re a believable couple and family and I enjoyed the interactions. The introduction of a psychic works well even if much of the script is a bit clichéd and it starts to have a Poltergeist-feel to it.

Surprisingly, once the movie becomes more action -based and horror-centric, it goes a bit downhill. The second half feels like one long and not very exciting seance/ouija board/supernatural scene. We get all of the usual troupes that horror fans will have seen a thousand times. There’s no real surprises, nothing original and sometimes things just get a bit too ridiculous. We see a spirit literally sign a deal with the parents with a pen.

And when the movie gets a bit more intense, the actors struggle a little. Jennifer Pierce Mathus plays the mum and David Rees Snell plays the dad. Both aren’t exactly inexperienced but when reacting to ghosts and spirits, it just didn’t quite work for me. CJ Jones plays the psychic and actually does a little better. He actually gets some of the sillier scenes (and his outfits make him look like a pimp at times!) from the script but he does his best and is mostly enjoyable throughout. Maybe it’s because I’m interested in it but I always like the use of sign language in movies and Jones’s character uses it here – not quite used as excellently as say The Quiet Place but it’s good to see it.

There was some potential in Door In The Woods but much of it is missed. It ‘borrows’ ideas from many other genre movies but never betters them and it feels like an hour long movie stretched for an extra thirty minutes. The actors try the best but they can’t stop this supernatural movie from jumping straight into the rather big pile of average low budget horror.

** 2/5

Door in the Woods is available on DVD and Digital now from Wild Eye Releasing.

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