By: Trevor Chartrand
Doors is an anthology-style sci-fi film from the producers of V/H/S, featuring four short stories all set in the same universe. Each story or segment is helmed by its own filmmaker, giving us a variety of perspectives and approaches to one shared idea. Without a doubt, the film is an interesting experiment and a great way to showcase the uniqueness of the creative mind. Given the same premise, each filmmaker turns in a vastly different short film. As an anthology, each story lends to the others, while still standing on its own, remaining unique and memorable.
The shared premise that binds these short stories together is a relatively simple one: when a series of mysterious biological ‘doors’ are sent to earth by an extraterrestrial race, the citizens of planet earth are troubled and intrigued to discover they are not alone in the universe.
The short story anthology approach taken by the film certainly makes it stand out, and the direction of the films are refreshing enough to make for an interesting viewing – now having said that, the segments themselves occasionally feel lacking, both in story and execution, which is most unfortunate.
Exposition in the film is consistently clunky and repetitive, across most of the segments, with the second one, “Knockers”, being the biggest offender. Some of the shorts are introduced by a radio DJ, Martin Midnight (played by David Hemphill), who updates his listeners on the state of the world. In part two, Martin Midnight lets us know about ordinary civilians who have volunteered to explore inside the alien doors and return to share their findings. Moments after hearing the DJ explain who and what the Knockers are, on-screen text appears to inform the viewers that Knockers are about to enter the alien door. The redundancy of repeated expository details is at its worst here, and certainly weighs the film down.
The performances are also sub-par, especially in the opening segment, “Lockdown”. High school students who appear to be in detention discover a door in their hallway, and are drawn to its mysterious allure. It’s essentially the breakfast club with aliens, and while the actors playing the students are genuine enough, they struggle to sink their teeth into some pretty awkward dialogue. The rest of the film has similar performances from an otherwise decent cast – rarely rising above the level of ‘passable’ or ‘okay.’
To the film’s credit, the overall aesthetic and visual style is interesting and consistent throughout. I especially enjoyed the intriguing nature and design of the space-doors themselves. These strange, convulsing, black entities appear to be organic, living and breathing, and they communicate with humans through their thoughts.
The strongest segment, in my opinion, is “Lamaj”, directed by Dugan O’Neal – but it could also be considered the most bizarre. In this segment, a man learns how to communicate with one of the doors, and the two become friends, in a strange and twisted way.
Overall, Doors is certainly a unique and intriguing film. While the movie never seems to reach its full potential, the film does elevate a simple premise with the addition of four unique perspectives and consistent variety of filmmaking styles and approaches.
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Trevor Chartrand: @OhHaiTrebor