The Other Side of the Door Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Sarah Wayne Callies, Jeremy Sisto
  • Director: Johannes Roberts
  • Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
  • Studio: 20TH CENTURY FOX
  • Release Date: June 7, 2016
  • Run Time: 96 minutes

     The setting may be somewhat unique, but don’t let that fool you. This horror film has been done many times before. The narrative alone shares themes similar to countless other movies, most notably the classic Pet Cemetery, but even more derivative are the stylistic choices made by director Johannes Roberts. It isn’t so much that this is a bad film. In fact, many of the sequences are effectively eerie. The problem is that they all have been done before. The ghost-like woman apparition threatening to come from the afterlife looks and moves remarkably similar to the TV-dwelling spirit from The Ring franchise, while other imagery from Japanese ghost narratives such as Ju-on (remade as The Grudge) are also peppered throughout the familiar storyline. Production elements are on point, but The Other Side of the Door would be far more effective if I was unfamiliar with previous releases in the ghost story subgenre. 

            After a brief awkward prologue showing American couple Maria (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Michael (Jeremy Sisto) discovering they are expecting child while on vacation in India and deciding to raise their family in the country, The Other Side of the Door jumps many years forward in time after this child has been lost to a tragic accident. With such a brief amount of information offered in this opening sequence, one must wonder why it was included at all. When we join this family again, they are recovering from the tragedy, later seen in unsettling flashbacks. That first child was killed in a deadly car wreck, though Maria was able to save her second child. This living child merely serves as a tool in the horror as Maria takes drastic measures to see her deceased son one last time.

            Warping Hindi mythology for the horror set-up, Maria follows a mystical procedure in order to bring back her son’s ghost so that she can say goodbye. After digging up her son’s corpse and cremating it to use the ashes in a cemetery ceremony, Maria is able to hear her son’s voice one last time. The only warning she is given is predictably broken, turning the deceased boy into a malevolent spirit out to terrorize Maria and her remaining child. As is often the case in films such as these, the father remains clueless and absent until it is too late. While the complete dismissal of Michael’s character is somewhat irritating, it is nothing compared to the film’s treatment of the country’s natives. Despite taking place in India, there is really only one speaking Indian character within the narrative, and she is the family’s servant. All of the rest are represented as savages and/or monsters.

            The Other Side of the Door has a moment or two of well executed horror sequences, but none of it feels remotely original. Callies carries much of the film admirably, but her character is so frustratingly written that I had little sympathy for her survival. Sisto’s character is missing from the narrative so much of the run-time that he merely seems to be another name attached to project in order to attract attention, leaving most of Callies scenes to be played against supernatural incarnations and the feral-looking child actor playing her daughter. While this kid (Sofia Rosinsky) looks eerie, even before possession clich├ęs enter the plot, her inexperience as an actor handicaps many scenes.

            The Blu-ray release for this forgettable horror film includes a DVD and Digital HD copy of the film. As the effects are far better than the screenplay deserves, the high definition presentation helps highlight the film’s greatest asset beyond the committed performance from Callies. The special features include some unnecessary deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette. There is also a production photo gallery and a theatrical trailer.

    Entertainment Value: 5.5/10
    Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
    Historical Significance:  3/10
    Special Features: 3.5/10

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