Canadian indie Door Mouse is organically cool, and writer/director Avan Jogia knows it (most of the time).
Jogia’s contemporary neo-noir features Riverdale’s Hayley Law as Mouse, comic book illustrator by day and a burlesque dancer at night. As she tries to shrug off her current creative rut regarding her comics losing interest at the local buy-and-sell shop, she’s immediately concerned when a fellow club dancer goes missing. With the help of her reserved pal Ugly (Keith Powers), Mouse uses her contacts and resources to collect clues and network, all while channeling newfound inspiration into her art.
Door Mouse isn’t an homage to moody mysteries but instead, like Rian Johnson’s breakout Brick or his Knives Out franchise (or, keeping the Canadian connection, Evan Morgan’s The Kid Detective), Jogia uses genre influences to create a layered and slick yarn that only becomes more unsettling when its stripped down to its core, pulling back the stylistic sheen to uncover disturbing motivations driving this story. The film also incorporates Mouse’s edgy artwork flawlessly within the storytelling, using the violent images to build on suffocating tension and other exciting action sequences. If this method was used to cover production gaps due to budgetary reasons, then this workaround is even more creative.
While Door Mouse has some clever writing that’ll have you snickering, the film also faces instances where Jogia is trying too hard to maintain the movie’s swagger. For example, Powers is good as Ugly, but his brooding isn’t as reigned in as it could be. Heck, his hair – usually draped down over his face as he peers between his braids – feels like another character entirely.
Considering how natural and strong Door Mouse’s atmospheric longevity is, this is still a great feature-length debut for Avan Jogia, a would-be visionary who holds our attention. With a bit more discipline and awareness, Jogia (primarily known for his acting, last seen in The Exchange and Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City) is going to go far with this new career move.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie
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