Ignorance has been said to be blissful, yet in the newest 2016 theatrical horror release, ‘The Other Side Of The Door,’ this unaware approach is quite the opposite, carrying a haunting, scarring, confusing, life altering, death reversing mystifying mess for the family involved.
The mess is constructed out of the leading character, Maria’s (Sarah Wayne Callies) desperation following her son’s abrupt death. And what seems to make this desperation more complex is the fact that Maria and her family are expatriates in Mumbai, India, far away from all the comforts of their home country and all the necessary components one might need for proper bereavement if they haven’t fully adjusted to life abroad.
In this oddly beautiful placement that the family seems to have happily fit in prior to Oliver’s death, lies the problems of social, religious and philosophical unfamiliarity. So when the family’s caretaker, Piki (Suchitra Pillai-Malik) suggests a ritual based from her own Hinduism beliefs that could help Maria with saying her final goodbyes, the mother accepts unknowing the true meanings, repercussions and dangers that would only come with a lifetime of knowing the belief systems of Hinduism, therein lying the ignorance.
Callies embodies the character, Maria with precision, however the script restricts her from being more curiously questioning about the background of this ritual and the meanings behind it, even after she administers it. With this chunk left out of the story, audiences are robbed of proper build up or a strong enough explanation to truly strike fear and chills into our minds and bodies during climactic scenes.
Along with that, Maria’s journey to the desolated temple fell entirely short of the grandeur that should have been shown prior to, during and following the actual ritual. Instead, viewers get a rushed, barely dramatic sequence that should have introduced the temple, the door with the mystery of what’s behind it and eventually what comes through it as main characters of this film that housed much more potential than professionalism.
Within the mixture that becomes ‘The Other Side Of The Door’ lies a monster-type ghostly “gatekeeper.” And I say that as vague as possible to avoid spoiling the plot. As this monster appears and fades out through the hour and 36 minute film, we are never given a proper introduction or full explanation to this entity that could have possibly been the best one in recent memory. However, we get an eerie look at something similar to Pixar’s recent Oscar nominated animated short ‘Sanjay’s Super Team,’ but sadly the Pixar effort is more frightening as a whole than what ‘The Other Side Of The Door’ shows us, aside from the final sequence, which still held back too much.
Speaking of the final scenes, audiences are treated to an unanticipated twist of sorts, that helps tie together the film and graciously offers a glimmer of hope for redemption in a possible follow up film that could make up for all the weak points that ‘The Other Side Of The Door’ embodied.
Overall, I think that ‘The Other Side Of The Door’ is a good attempt at a story with great potential. Where the script proves lax, the supplemental element of unfamiliar locations, highlighted by the family’s house and temple help pull the film together with an added level of character building. For horror fans, it’s a must watch for certain, but don’t expect too much, as it rarely delivers in a mesmerizing sense.