Just exactly how many terrible horror movies do you need to make Hollywood? When will your quota be filled, where you finally say to yourself, “Alright, that’s enough. Let’s try making something actually scary for a change!” Let’s think about how many downright dreadful horror flicks we can list off the top of our heads? Silent Hill: Revelation 3D? The 2009 remake of Halloween II? The list can be endless if given enough time, and there appears to be no stopping this runaway train of abysmal terror features. Given how early in the year it is for a so-called “scary” film to release, it comes as no surprise to say that The Other Side of the Door joins the ranks of laughably bad features that are in no way, shape or form frightening. I guess you could say, this is a door I wish had never been opened.
The Other Side of the Door stars Sarah Wayne Callies as mother Maria who recently lost her son Oliver (Logan Creran) in a tragic traffic accident. Suicidal and depressed, her family’s assistant Piki (Suchitra Pillai-Malik) recommends a way to find closure. There exists a temple in the middle of India where, with the performance of a ritual, spirits can be brought to the other side of one of the temple’s doors for a final farewell. However, under no circumstances can said door be opened. So guess what happens? Well, of course, Maria opens the door and some messed up ju-ju starts befalling on her family because “Most Intelligent Mother of the Year” everyone.
Here is the one thing I will give this movie credit for. There are two rather heartbreaking moments that show off what this movie could have been under better direction and writing. The first is when we’re shown just how the son dies, and how Maria was only able to save her daughter, letting Oliver drown. The second is when Maria is kneeling beside the temple door and talking to her deceased son, begging for forgiveness. These are two genuinely sad moments that will grab you, and it proves some of the potential that should have been behind the interesting ghost story concept.
Sadly, that potential is utterly wasted on laughably bad storytelling, a complete lack of scares and undefined characters. You know a film is in trouble from the get go when its entire concept has a giant plot hole behind it. If this door is capable of bringing evil into this world, and plenty of people have used this door to communicate with the deceased, don’t you think somebody would have brought along a lock to remove all temptation of opening the stupid door? Oddly, as much as Piki informs of this ritual to talk with the dead, it is quite hilarious how all in Maria is with the process. They literally unearth her sons remains and burn them, and not once does Maria step in and say, “Hey, maybe this is completely crazy and I shouldn’t be doing this.” Piki just one day tells her about this supposed ritual, and she’s like “OK, sounds good.” It’s quite hilarious in all honesty.
Next, for something that has marketed itself as a horror movie, not a single time did I find myself with a sense of tension or fright. The Other Side of the Door cheaply uses jump scares that you’ve seen a hundred times before, and none of them land when you can see them coming from a mile away. In the theater, one person screamed at single jump scare and that was it. Every other time this movie attempted to instill dread into the audience was instead met with laughter. The frights are as predictable as it gets, meaning only those with the lowest tolerance for horror will find any chills in this piece.
Finally, what feels like the worst goof up of all is how boring and formless the film’s characters truly are. All that really characterizes Maria is the fact that she’s lost her son and is in grief over it. The family’s assistant Pika suffers a similar fate, as all we’re really told about her is she lost a daughter some time ago. Death does not define a character, it is how that character deals with the loss that truly defines them, and this movie completely misses the point of that. Also, let’s not forget to mention that Maria’s husband is barely in this picture, and every single moment he is there adds nothing to the story. He is but an empty shell placed there for convenience and the ludicrous “twist” ending that entirely contradicts his involvement with the narrative. I do give the daughter some acknowledgement for being a little glimmer of creepy, but again, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before.
You know what The Other Side of the Door feels like? Have you ever stayed up late looking for a good ghost story on the internet, and you stumbled upon one of those bland little yarns that bored you but forgave because it was so short? The Other Side of the Door comes off as one of those dry tales stretched to the 95 minute mark and overstuffed with even worse storytelling. There are no real characters, no scares, no flowing plot, no nothing. At the end of the day, this movie will just end up being one of those hilariously dreadful flicks you’ll pop in one day just to get a few good laughs with your friends. The Other Side of the Door isn’t just a doorway you’ll wish had remained closed, it’s one you’ll pray be boarded up, condemned and demolished instantly, as this structure has no worthwhile value that would add anything to the horror genre.