Never Open the Door
Three happy couples enjoy the holidays in a cozy secluded cabin in the woods when they are suddenly interrupted by an unprecedented event that will forever change their lives.
You know it can’t be a good sign if you have to follow up a terrible film, by debating (because you despised the movie so much) on whether or not you should check out the special features on the screener Blu-ray in your possession – simply to determine if what you just experienced was meant to be taken seriously, or if it was done in some sort of jest.
Sadly, with the new horror film Never Open the Door, and the interview (on the special features) with co-writer/director Vito Trabucco confirmed that the film’s intended audience was supposed to look at this as a legit horror/sci-fi film. Um, no…
Six friends have rented a vacation home in the mountains to reconnect and celebrate Thanksgiving. As they sit around the table – enjoying food, wine and conversation – there’s a knock at the door. Upon opening the door; a strange old man spews forth infected blood into one of the character’s faces (a la Cabin Fever). Panic sets in as the man dies on the foyer floor. Cell phones don’t work, the newly-infected girl disappears and becomes possessed and then the time-line goes all wonky. And then the characters make inexplicable choice after inexplicable choice.
The opening credits of this film will warm your heart. The score sounds like classic Hollywood and the overall design of the credits look as if they could have been done by a protégé of someone like the great graphic designer; Saul Bass – who designed opening credit sequences for such films as Psycho, Vertigo and North by Northwest. Sadly, these promising and exciting opening credits are the only (and I do mean ONLY) good thing about Never Open the Door.
But on the subject of music, as wonderful and nostalgic as the score by Carlos Vivas was in those fabulous opening credits, the music never matched the action in the rest of the actual film. It was out of place and distracting.
And since I’ve already mentioned the short interview with Trabucco (I didn’t watch the whole thing), I’ll bring up the fact that he talks about having the actors improv. I can tell by the “dialogue” that whatever script Trabucco and co-writer Christopher Maltauro (who also produced here) had for production, was a skeleton at best… and a wholly unformed one at that. The repetition of lines in certain situations and the overlapping of basically every single line uttered in the film – confirms my belief that these actors were thrown in and told to get from point A to point B – and then to fill in the rest. Good luck, actors!
Every single one of the actors in this ensemble was dreadful. I’d like to believe that had these actors been given an actual script, they might have risen to great heights. But it’s painfully clear that they are not good improv actors. So I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they have skills in one type of acting, just not all of them – like the type of acting highlighted here.
Also a problem for this cast of actors – they never deliver any lines with any real urgency. Sure, they’re screaming over one another in an attempt to create suspense and tension, but their movements and lackluster line deliveries (not to mention strange non-reactions to the situations) will have you dropping your jaw in amazement! These actors are terrible! Even when they get physical with one another, you won’t believe it. A struggle between one of the couples later on in the film is absolutely laughable. And then there is the line delivery following said struggle – a monotone “I’m going to kill you Maria”. Ugh.
The choice to make this in black and white was due in large part to the filmmakers’ love for all things The Twilight Zone and their apparent personal connection to John Brahm – a veteran film and television director, who helmed several episodes of the classic The Twilight Zone as well as Alfred Hitchcock Presents. But with a final product as bad as this – how can you call it a tribute or a worthy homage?
The basic idea behind the story was actually quite fun, if completely left open for interpretation (if you care to go any deeper into the experience – I myself refuse to do so). There’s no explanation of what is happening or why. I generally have no problem with open-ended questions, if the other elements of the film work (i.e. great performances or sparkling dialogue can overcome a questionable central idea). But that’s not the case here.
The editing in the film was atrocious and repetitive. The fact that scenes were shown and reshown (several different ones) looked like plain old filler. And with a film that ended up at only 64 minutes, you have to wonder why they even tried to extend it. You’re miles away from a true feature length, so these added few moments of scenes we’ve already viewed – ultimately pointless.
Again; at a scant 64 minutes – in most circles – this film would not even qualify as a feature-length piece. But I can barely tell you how relieved I was to realize that this awful movie-going experience was ending. Those closing credits could not have come fast enough. And as desperately as I searched to find a running time on the disc, there was no such information on either the disc itself or the case. Imagine my potential distress if I had seen something like “120 minutes running time” when I knew the film was a mess within the first 10 minutes!
The sound design/mixing was distracting – most notably when the use of duct-tape came into play to tether one of the characters. It was all just so oddly loud – and clearly added in post; badly.
The most basic shreds of a story and an unrealized concept – along with terrible ad-libbing from a cast with no apparent improv training; made for a very boring and irritating night at the movies (or at home in this case). Avoid at all costs is a true understatement.
Never Open the Door is now available on VOD/DVD and Blu-ray. And since I’m so damned fond of using a bad film’s title against it in some creative and devastating way – how does this work for you:
Never Open the Door.
Okay. You don’t have to tell me twice!