By Thomas Simpson
British filmmaker Johannes Roberts returns with his latest offering, the less than catchy titled, The Other Side of the Door. What could be another throwaway horror turns out to be a frightening experience that borrows from Indian mythical beliefs and backed up by some decent performances by the cast.
The film is set in Mumbai where we are introduced to Maria (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Michael (Jeremy Sisto). They speak of moving to the area on a permanent basis and raising a family. Fast forward six years and all has not gone according to plan. The couple had twins, Oliver (Logan Crenan) and Lucy (Sofia Rosinsky), however a horrific car accident leaves the family trapped with Maria having to leave Oliver so she and Lucy can survive. Riddled with guilt, her housekeeper Piki (Suchitra Pillai-Malik) offers her the supernatural opportunity to apologize to her son. Unfortunately, Oliver doesn’t plan to rest in peace as he makes his way to the world of the living. Sophie’s Choice 2: The Revenge.
Roberts presents a by the numbers horror but it is a tried and tested formula that proves to be effective here. There are many moments of sheer terror, emphasized brilliantly by the amazing sound production and Joseph Bishara’s jarring score. The cheap scares are utilized wonderfully with the film leaving you on edge for the most part. Roberts doesn’t leave you much time to relax to the benefit of the film.
The use of practical effects imbue a realism that doesn’t distract from the scares. There is no CGI monster that looks like it’s escaped from a ’90s video game, instead the monsters look real. It’s ironic then that scarier scenes are reserved from what you don’t see. The eerie noises and sudden ghostly phenomena are much more compelling yet Roberts opts to reveal his hand more often than needed.
The plot is straightforward and simply told however it falls into the trap of exposition as the paranormal folklore is explained to us in great detail. These scenes sound forced and shoehorned in to explain why events are happening. It’s a needless commentary that is not executed well.
Overall The Other Side of the Door is one of the best horrors of the year, although it’s not one that will stay with you after you leave the cinema. You’ll be grabbing the sides of your chair while watching but don’t expect it to keep you awake when you hear bumps in the night.
Thomas Simpson is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow, U.K. Find him on Twitter: @Simmy41.