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The Other Side of the Door
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The Other Side of the Door (2016)

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Plot Summary:
"After her young son is killed in a tragic accident, a woman learns of a ritual which will bring him back to say goodbye, but when she disobeys a sacred warning, she upsets the balance between life and death."

Review by
Ryan McDonald
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Review Date: 02 June 2017 My Rating: out of 5


Sarah Wayne Callies and husband Jeremy Sisto move their family unit to India. Not long after, their son dies in an accident, leaving Callies in particular completely grief-stricken. Struggling to move on six years later, the couple’s Indian housekeeper suggests to Callies (who blames herself for her son’s death) going to a temple and performing a certain ritual that will allow her to say a proper goodbye to her son, and finally move on from this sad chapter. She is told, however, under no circumstances whatsoever is she allowed to open the temple door (the door between the world of the living and that of the dead), no matter how much her ‘son’ pleas with her. Yeah, I’m sure you can work out what Callies does next and it has sinister, ghostly consequences for her and the rest of her family.

Supernatural horror films founded on the grief of losing a child are nothing new, but it’s a perfectly workable idea. Losing a child must be a truly horrific, gut-wrenching experience, and one that even those who haven’t been through it can at least certainly sympathise with. So in that respect, it’s kind of clever to use that as the basis for a film. This blend of “Poltergeist”, “Pet Sematary” and “The Impossible” from director Johannes Roberts (who was behind the much lesser, if competently directed genre flick “Storage 24”) and his co-writer Ernest Riera (his first feature length screenwriting endeavour) is pretty good. I’ll admit the inclusion of Eastern mysticism does have the potential to seem racially stereotyped, but for all I know it’s accurate for the culture. I’m hardly an expert on Eastern mythology/spirituality. Some might find the usage of the grief aspect to be a touch exploitive, but that didn’t bother me so much. I think Roberts and Riera get away with both, and if anything I was more underwhelmed by some fairly ancient plotting. It still works, it’s just nothing you haven’t seen before, plot-wise.

I can’t stand Sarah Wayne Callies as an actress, I’ve always found her a cold fish, a mixture of Debra Winger and Laura Linney, with half the talent of the latter. Here though, she gives by far her best performance to date, and being front and centre, it’s a jolly good thing. It’s crucial that you understand and sympathise with this woman, so it’s quite surprising to me that someone I’m normally predisposed to loathing managed to draw me in here. This woman has been almost paralysed by her grief, and that relatability makes you understand when Callies does the very thing she was told not to bloody well do. It’s a foolish act, but an understandable one for someone operating entirely on unrestrained emotional impulse. I would’ve liked more scenes with the underrated and charismatic Jeremy Sisto, but given where this film needs to go and who it’s really centred on, it probably had to be this way. He’s solid as always, though. Although this is pretty much a drama with horror elements, it doesn’t fail on the latter front. The ghostly creatures are a bit J-horror for my liking, but pretty creepy nonetheless. It’s an extremely good-looking film with wonderful locales and striking imagery throughout. I’m not entirely sure the finale quite comes off, but I do rather like the ending itself. It’s kind of poetic.

Far more drama than horror, this is nonetheless a solid, underrated ghost-and-grief flick with solid performances, and stunning imagery. It works well enough on an emotional level that you don't much mind that it's pretty clichéd stuff. I was also glad to see a horror film about grown-ups, instead of boozy teens or something. Well worth a look, so long as you don't expect the most daring or original concept in years.

Reviewer: Richard Mansfield @MansfieldDark
Location:London, UK
Review Date: 23 March 2016 My Rating: out of 5

‘The Other Side of the Door’ is a British-Indian supernatural drama from director Johannes Roberts. Maria and Michael live in Mumbai with their daughter Lucy. The family is grieving at the recent loss of their son Oliver who died in a road accident. Maria suffers terrible guilt as she was only able to save Lucy in the tragedy. Maria becomes increasingly distant from her family and after an attempt to end her own life her house maid Piki tells her about am ancient ritual that can be performed at a ruined temple to allow the dead to return for one final time.

The only rule that must never be broken which of course Maria does break is to never open the door. Maria returns to her family but something has come back with her. It starts off with invisible footsteps pattering about the house then plants start to die. Maria senses Oliver is back with them and is secretly happy. Soon however the haunting takes a sinister turn, a horrible figure covering its face is glimpsed in the shadows getting closer and closer and creepy thin men with the ash of the dead painted on their faces keep hanging around and pointing at her. Yikes.

I generally lap up any kind of spooky cobblers and with the offer of a cheap ticket (and a few good reviews) I thought I’d give it a go. ‘The Other Side of the Door’ has lots of potential but unfortunately it is depressingly generic. The performances are pretty mediocre and the script dull. I couldn’t buy into Maria’s grief or the couple’s relationship.

The exotic location makes a nice change to the usual USA set films but for all the effort that has gone into it you will barely remember a frame once you set a foot out of the cinema. The suspense in some scenes is quite good thanks to ‘Insidious’ regular Joseph Bishara’s score but rather than allowing the creep factor to edge in, every scare ends with a CGI face screeching at the audience. It isn’t scary and It is films like this that give the horror genre a bad name. I’d sit this next to recent release ‘The Forest’ in being a complete waste of time. If you’re looking for a good horror then go and see ‘The Witch’ or ‘Goodnight Mommy’. Both are excellent and on release now.

Depressingly generic haunted house thriller

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