One of the worst myths about creative work is that the only difficult part is coming up with that initial killer idea, the standout spark that gives a project its energy. In fact, ideas are pretty simple – it is execution that is difficult. It’s hard enough getting a good idea on the page or on the screen to make it feel different from thousands of other similar ideas. It is even more difficult to do it in such a way that it can reach its full potential. If you get it right, and even without a sizeable manufacturing or marketing budget, you could achieve the underground success that slow word of mouth is building a sizeable following. If you get it wrong, you will get something like the confusing indie sci-fi movie Doorsthat starts with an energetic idea and then dissolves it with a series of aggressive wrong movements.
Doors has a promising premise: more than a million doors appear out of nowhere all over planet earth. They are verifiably alien in nature – their surfaces twist with an effect like magnets over iron filings, they make eerie noises and occasional voices, they blink and jerk until they are difficult to see. People who get too close get drawn in, which immediately raises questions – where are they going and why?
However, the 81-minute film only answers these questions in weird and confusing ways via an anthology format where the puzzle pieces don’t completely fit together. The story is divided into four segments. In the first edition of “Lockdown,” directed by Jeff Desom, four students isolated in a library to take a test deal with the first appearance of a door in their school. In the second, most developed segment, “Knockers,” directed by Saman Kesh, three volunteers step into a door and confront what is on the other side. In the third, “Lamaj”, directed by Dugan O’Neal, an isolated man in the words conducts illegal experiments on a door with a sound system manipulated by the jury. The fourth segment does not have its own title or credits, but there is an independent broadcaster who interviews a guest who explains his perspective on the phenomenon in a disturbing way.
Aside from broadcaster Martin Midnight (David Hemphill) adding snide-talk radio voice-over to some segments, the characters don’t switch from one story to another as the film jumps forward with time. “Lockdown” takes place on the first day of the door phenomenon, “Knockers” is 15 days later and “Lamaj” is months later, while the unnamed fourth segment does not feel fixed in time. Progress is the only way the viewer can see how the doors have changed society, as all of these segments are isolated and isolated and only “knockers” give a real sense of the larger world.
This is a frustrating choice for a story because each of these segments ends abruptly and in a pregnant and meaningful moment, as if to underline all of the unknowns in the game. And they each end at the time when the audience feels they actually know the characters well enough to understand the dynamics in the game. The first three segments and in particular “Lockdown” tell their stories in a strangely sluggish way, with a sense of urgency only developing immediately before the segments break. In a story that spends so little time explaining some of its stranger statements (so that millions of people have disappeared into the doors while “many more are believed dead for some reason”), the sheer time that is spent on Teenagers spent, quietly debating whether to get their ringing phones out of a locked cupboard can be unbearable.
There’s not much cohesion to the segments in Doorsalthough the three with credits were all written or co-written by Creative Director Kesh. Tons of disparity is expected in anthology film projects V / H / S, ABCs of death, or Love, death + robots – Switching from tone to tone can even be an enjoyable feature as it eases tension a bit and messes up audience expectations and reactions. But during Doors gives a feeling of airless morbidity to all four segments, it varies from piece to piece. “Lockdown” plays like M. Night Shyamalan’s The happeningThe actors dropped a booming, oversized import on the most mundane lines and spent so much time staring around fearfully that they almost came across as comatose. “Lamaj” feels more like that Westworld
Kesh’s “Knockers” is the most successful of the segments because it has the least reliance on shaky special effects (a big problem with “Lockdown” in particular) and the most nerve-wracking horror movie action. But even this segment feels like it’s broken up into pieces that don’t stick together: first a sleepy exploration of a deserted world from above, then a Terrence Malick-style reflection with a whispered, poetic VoiceOver, then a downright attempt to do it again create destruction on a micro budget. “Knockers” contains some particularly nice shots, especially with the protagonists Becky and Vince (Lina Esco and David Dobrik Vlog Squadder Josh Peck) standing together on the beach before they go into the door they choose. Once they get deep into what’s on the other side, Kesh even manages destruction‘s feeling of oppression in the face of inevitable terror.
But too much of Doors It feels like it is circling possible angles for this killer concept instead of delving deeply, and teasing the audience with the possibility rather than even telling a full story or developing a coherent thought. It looks more like a show reel than an independent film, like a confusing processed sizzling teaser for a much more detailed presentation Doors Drama series. In a film landscape where horror films are now often shot as low budget business cards to prove the skills of aspiring directors, this may be enough. Who knows, maybe someone will see this movie as the ground-modeled version of a killer story idea. But in and of itself it’s just one missed opportunity after another.
Doors Comes to cinemas on March 19th and is available to rent on demand on March 23rd. Before going to a theater, Polygon recommends reading ours Guide to local theaters and safety precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic.