by: S. Scott Stanikmas
Regret is a powerful emotion. In horror films, regret is more often than not the catalyst for whatever horrible circumstances befall the main characters. Whether it’s not being there for someone or causing some tragic accident, the grief and pain eventually become too much and that is when the shit tends to hit the fan.
Such is the case in The Other Side of the Door, the newest film from British horror director Johannes Roberts. In this film, a mother’s pain over the death of her son makes her throw caution to the wind just for one final chance to speak to him…and has grave consequences.
Maria (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Michael (Jeremy Sisto) are an American couple living in India where Michael runs a successful antique business. The couple has two children, which by the time this starts is whittled down to one. Lucy, their daughter, is alive and well but their son Oliver has tragically perished recently.
The couple’s housekeeper, Piki, sees how much pain Maria is in at the loss of her son. Piki tells Maria of an abandoned temple in the village where she grew up. Here it is said that the line between the world of the dead and the world of the living is very thin. If Maria wants to she can converse with her son through the temple door one last time, to gain some closure. However no matter how much her child begs and pleads she cannot open the door.
Of course Maria opens the door (what kind of movie would it be if she didn’t?) and soon strange things happen. Plants and animals die. Objects move on their own. And Lucy says that she sees Oliver around their house. But this isn’t the loving boy that Maria once knew. This Oliver is a putrid and decaying shade of what her son once was…and he doesn’t want to go back to the land of the dead.
This was a very typical horror film but I did give it some bonus points for a couple of unique twists. The setting of India isn’t one that American audiences are used to in horror films so it was a nice touch. It definitely gave a real “fish out of water” feel to what Maria was attempting in trying to contact her son. And without giving away too much, Oliver isn’t the only ghost haunting the house. It was a nice set-up for an ending that really came out of left field (but in a good way).
Sarah Wayne Callies plays the grieving mother perfectly. She hits the mark every chance she gets, whether it’s crumbling in grief on the floor of her foyer or showing both love and fear while reading to her “son” who locks her in his room with him. This ties in perfectly when we finally see how her son died, which seems like a parent’s worst nightmare. On the flip side of the coin Jeremy Sisto is just there, but the script didn’t really give him much to work with. He does finally show us something around the last half of the third act but it’s a case of too little, too late.
Roberts, who also co-wrote the film with Ernest Riera, does an admirable job. This isn’t the director’s first foray into horror, but seeing as the majority of his stuff is from across the pond this may be the first chance American audiences are getting to view his work.
Mixing the tried-and-true “cat-on-the-piano” jump scares with a few good pieces of psychological mind games, The Other Side of the Door is a unique film worth checking out at least once.