Like every horror movie that I don’t care about, this one crept up out of nowhere. The only reason I knew this even existed was because my schedule for work came out and the title of the movie came up. Saw a trailer for it and knew this would be chalk full of jump scares, but I didn’t have high hopes that it’d be a challenging story or outstanding in any way. Out of the four new titles that came out this week, this was the one I was looking forward to the least. But since I like to talk about films, even bad ones, let’s get right to it. This is my honest opinion of THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR.
Maria (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Michael (Jeremy Sisto) are a loving married couple who decide that they want to stay in India to raise their, as of yet born children. Everything is great with their two children, their son Oliver (Logan Creran) and daughter Lucy (Sofia Rosinsky) until a tragic car accident causes Maria to drive off a bridge into a river with her and her kids trapped inside. Unfortunately, she can only save Lucy and is forced to leave Oliver behind to die. The incident has left her with nightmares and an inability to move on and be completely disconnected from her family. This all changes when their housekeeper Piki (Suchitra Pillai) tells Maria about a ritual in a temple that can bring Oliver back long enough for her to say her final farewell. His spirit will be on the opposite side of a door said to hold the dead spirits at bay and that she is not to open the door under any circumstances, no matter what is heard. In a desperate attempt to give it a try and provide closure, she performs the ritual and it works. However, the exchange is too brief for Maria and opens the door. She returns home, but then her home is haunted by the evil presence of the dead Oliver and the ever looming threat of the temple guardian that wants to bring him back to the world of the dead.
Ugh… Where do I even begin with this?
Alright, the premise had a lot of promise. I have no real problem with buying that Maria and Michael are a happy and stable couple, and I have no problem with Callies performance as a grieving mother who wants to move on from the tragedy and be a part of her family’s lives again. In fact, Callies performance is damn good in this movie. Unfortunately, there’s so many tropes that are not only annoying, but insultingly recycled.
Here’s the opening scene: Maria and Michael are walking along the beach happily celebrating their upcoming child and debate whether or not they should stay. They come across a little girl and Michael asks her if the two of them should stay. The little girl then creepily points at her and her face gets all horror-fied. You know what I’m talking about. Her face magically becomes pale, eyes go white, the veins in the face turn “bright black” if that makes sense, and the voice distorts unnaturally and makes a noise, like a scream or something. Then it’s revealed that this scene was a flashback.
Um… that image of a horror-fied face is not a normal nightmare that people have, especially when it starts off so lovey dovey. Even if you wanted to give the argument that this kind of nightmare is common, that’s still pretty disjointed and confused, considering that the rest of the movie is loaded with scary imagery that pops in and out. Every other movie-goer would be thinking that nightmare of hers is supernatural. This is, once again, confused as nothing supernatural has happened yet to warrant that. Honestly, you could have taken out that split-second horror-fied moment and the very next scene with Maria hitting her husband awake would have still been… disjointed, but less annoyingly so.
From this point on, it’s all drama, which is good because any horror movie worth a fuck would TRY and get the audience to care about the characters. And then we’re introduced to Piki and her ritual in the temple. First of all, why not go with her and make sure she does everything correctly? Fine that she has to be in the temple alone to talk to her dead son, but make sure you’re there to tell her not to go down the creepy hallway, down the creepy stairs, tell her that the creepy statue of the temple guardian will indeed come to life and fuck your white bitch ass up left and right around this country if you open that mother fuckin’ door! All this information seems pretty relevant and might have been extra incentive for the dumb bitch to not open that mother fuckin’ door!
But whatever, she goes to the temple, does everything she’s supposed to and has a pretty powerful brief talk with Oliver. Well, surely she wouldn’t be so stupid as to open the mother fuckin’- GOD DAMN IT, WHITE BITCH, YOU OPENED THE MOTHER FUCKIN’ DOOR!!! Who should I blame here? The dumb white bitch who was told to NOT be a dumb white bitch, or Piki who didn’t elaborate on any rhyme or reason as to why that mother fuckin’ door shouldn’t open?
Well, she does and the house becomes haunted by Oliver’s ghost. He begins to have interactions with Lucy as well as Maria herself. At first, it’s some cheap stuff, like a self-playing piano, a moving chair, a falling book, that kind of thing and everything seems benign. But… question, Oliver’s ghost… why only them? What, is your dad not worth haunting? Does he have a proton pack on standby in the closet and you know better than to haunt that fucker? And why are you also not haunting Piki until later? Why are ghosts in these movies so selective in their haunting?
But I have to admit, this is where some good development comes in. Oliver seems to calm down when Maria reads the The Jungle Book to him and seems to have an established personality. Sort of like they did with THE BOY; giving the supernatural a character, instead of relegating it to a plot device.
Problem is… that plot point goes down the shitter because Maria still suffers from supernaturally nightmarish dreams, and Oliver attacks Lucy. To top it all off, when Piki figures out what Maria did, she reveals that Oliver is a malevolent spirit and “no longer her son.” So why does Oliver want Maria to read to him? Um… because “evil!”
Now let’s talk about the temple guardian. To the film’s credit, the design for the guardian is pretty creepy. It’s got four arms, two covering its feminine face and crawls around on the others. Two days later, and I’m still unsettled in the dark in my own house. Hell, last night, I had to open the window so it’d be less quiet in my room. Having said all that, this guardian is probably the worst part of the movie.
First of all, it’s a complete rip-off of Samara from the Ring franchise and the ghost kid from THE GRUDGE. It moves like Samara, the stop-motion movement with it’s bones cracking with every movement. That’s the Ring rip-off, and its Grudge rip-off comes from the sound it itself makes; the half groaning, half burping sound.
Now that you can easily picture that because unimaginative monsters are easy like that, the guardian makes no sense. Maria’s first encounter with her is almost pointless. It grabs her ankle, Maria falls down and crawls away, pursued by the thing, and then it does the most horrifying thing imaginable… it DISAPPEARS!!! Er… what? Well… what was the point of that? It didn’t do anything. It grabs Maria’s ankle and then leaves. What, is that just how temple guardians shake hands?
And there’s so many other questions that have to be asked. If the guardian’s purpose is to bring the escaped spirit back to the world of the dead, why is it attacking Maria? Trying to punish her? Bitch, you tripped her. That’s not punishment, that’s rudeness. What efforts is the thing making to try and bring Oliver back? All this thing does is make random as fuck appearances and attacks Maria. For all intents and purposes, shouldn’t the guardian and Maria be on the same side? Wouldn’t the situation benefit from some cooperation and an attempt at communication? Why were you crawling around when you first met Maria? The audience is shown that you can clearly walk, albeit sluggishly (again, nothing is scarier than a monster I can outrun by walking at a half brisk pace). And what’s with the cannibal tribal dudes? They do the EXACT same thing! They just stand around, point, look creepy, spout gibberish, and don’t contribute anything to the story until the end, and even then, it’s like… weak, bro.
And that ending. I don’t have the vocabulary range to properly express how stupid it is. So Oliver possesses Maria in the end and she is ritually killed by the tribal dudes and the guardian finally shows up to do her job, reveals her fuck-ugly face and drags her and Oliver to the world of the dead. Maria wakes up dead on the other side of the mother fuckin’ door of the temple. Clearly some time goes by as Michael is on the other side, clearly having performed the ritual to say his final goodbye. Heh, well guess what fucking happens. HE OPENS THE MOTHER FUCKIN’ DOOR!!! Then roll credits.
Once again, where do I start?
Where did you learn this ritual? Piki’s dead and I’m assuming no one walks around arbitrarily talking about performing rituals that allow them to talk to their dead loved ones. Fine, an argument could be said that Piki told Michael where Maria went as she was gone, but then one would think that a lesson would have been learned as his wife was being gutted by tribals and a creepy stop-motion living statue playing peek-a-boo with her. Don’t fuck with shit you don’t understand, mother fucker. Why are white people so fucking stupid in foreign places?
And Maria. Dear sweet, beautiful Maria… how long did you need to acknowledge that you were dead and on the wrong side of the mother fuckin’ door? You seemed to have all your faculties in order as your husband was about to open the mother fuckin’ door. You knew he was there. You had ample time to tell him not to open the mother fuckin’ door. So why didn’t you tell him not to open the mother fuckin’ door? Now you’re going to come back as a bitch and haunt your husband and daughter, probably end up killing them too. Congrats on your foresight, woman.
This movie had a strange effect on me. The more I thought about it, the more I hated it. But the more I was writing about it here in my review, the more I was laughing at how bad it was. I wish I could call that a positive, but as I was watching the movie, I wasn’t enjoying myself. It was just a bad movie. Yes, Callies was great in individual scenes, but a horribly written character effectively overshadows her talent that I know she has. Yes, the creature design is creepy, but it’s also a stupid creature that contributes very little to the overall plot and is far from original as far as its animation is concerned.
My honest rating: 2/5