More noise than signal

Right At Your Door

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com

It is the single most terrifying thing you could imagine – terrorists setting off a filthy, stinking, dirty bomb right at your door. Or fairly close to your door, at any rate. Actually, sharks are pretty scary too. And reverse vampires. And the continued celebrity status of Paris Hilton. So, aside from reverse vampires, sharks and Paris Hilton then, this film is about the single most terrifying act of terror-based terrorism you can envisage. Unidentified terrorists (we suspect hybrid vampire-shark Hiltonites) set off a series of blasts around downtown L.A., each boom-wow packed to the gunwales with Mysterious Biological Warfare Component X, a hitherto unseen strain of the McGuffinium virus. Oooh, shut that door!

Shut it, then duct tape some plastic over it. So goes the advice goes out to those suburbanites unfortunate enough to be sitting in the dispersal pattern, including Brad (Rory Cochrane), sitting at home while his even less fortunate fiancee Lexi (Mary McCormack) is caught up in the maelstrom o’ chaos outside. After a failed attempt to bust into the now quarantined city centre to find his girlfriend, Brad follows the official Government / Blue Peter sticky back plastic school of home virus defence. Further advice goes to stay locked up tight and leave anyone left outside outside, due to a risk of contamination.

The question asked by Right At Your Door is simple, if the supposed love of your life showed up right at your door (aha! not just a clever title!) in a supposedly contaminated state, do you leave her out in the cold or let her in? The problem raised by Right At Your Door is that the answer is pretty obviously, “Let her in, you doofus”. As this would rather limit the scope for tension and dramatic relationship strains, it’s perhaps not unsurprising the Brad leaves Lexi right at his door. Aha! Not just a clever title!

That’s pretty much your lot, which may perhaps seem like selling it short.

I calls it like I sees it.

There is, I concede, little disturbingly wrong with the mechanics of Right At Your Door. Cochrane and McCormack do well enough with their roles and seem mostly believable. First time director Chris Gorak hides the lack of any meaningful effects budget well, keeps things paced almost spot on, barring a slight mid-film drag, and his background of art direction on a host of cult favourites (Fight Club, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Man Who Wasn’t There, to name but three) presumably helped in keeping a film set almost entirely inside a plastic coated house from looking too dull.

The issue really isn’t with Right At Your Door‘s execution, which eventually winds up rather like a grim live action version of unbelievably grim cartoon When the Wind Blows, but with the concept. If we’re supposed to buy Brad’s deep and enduring love for Lexi, we’re not also going to buy his refusal to let Lexi into the house, no matter how much he cries about it, at least not without losing sympathy with him. Once this process starts, the film is doomed. By the time the credits roll, any emotional investment you may have had with the film will have leaked out of your ears, trickled down your back and left in bloody, waxy little puddles on the cinema carpet.

Now, you don’t want to be leaving bloody, waxy puddles around the place, do you? Better avoid this film then. If, for some contrived reason your life depended on watching it then it’s not going to be the worst thing that could ever happen to you, but expect your mind to wander somewhat over the final third. Just try to stop it wandering out of your ears, kapedle?

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