Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Other Side of the Door

Michael and Maria found their love and their happiness in India and have lived there, building a family, ever silence. After having a blissful life with two children, tragedy strikes when Maria gets into a car accident with her two children in the car, Lucy and Oliver. Oliver's foot was trapped in the accident, so Maria chose to save her daughter and then come back for him. It was impossible to save him afterwards and Maria is wracked with guilt for years afterwards. Six years after the accident, Maria attempts suicide but fails. Piki, the housekeeper, reveals the place where Maria can talk to her son again, but not see him. It's imperative that she not open the door no matter how tempting it would be to see Oliver. Maria makes the trek, but predictably opens the door, letting her son's spirit out to wreak havoc. How can Oliver return to the afterlife? Will Maria realize that Oliver is dangerous before it's too late?

I didn't have high expectations for this film, but it still managed to disappoint. The biggest problems are the completely predictable, the horrible protagonist, and the treatment of India and its people. Almost every single plot point is a carbon copy of every other ghost film. I predicted the film as it went along except for the very end. I found Maria hard to relate to. I understand having grief and being depressed, but she ignores everyone else's grief in the face of her own. She has a child who lost  sibling and a father who also lost a son. One of the symptoms of Oliver's presence is every living thing dying that isn't human, so all the plants and animals on their property die. Everything around is dead and she keeps her blinders on, just happy that her son is back in some form. She is completely selfish and horrible. Her overwhelming stupidity in opening the door when she was explicitly told not to and her utter denial that her son's spirit becoming malevolent throughout the film made her completely unlikeable.

The Indian setting is beautiful and does make the film stand out from other mainstream horror films, but it's really only used to make the audience feel like their someplace alien. Despite having lived there for over a decade, Maria and Michael have made no friends at all. I find that extremely hard to believe. The only person familiar to them that's Indian is Pikka, their housekeeper, who of course has mystical insight to the world of the dead. The few scenes that Maria is in any public space is full of fear and seeing the society as at best alien, at worst threatening. She has lived here for over a decade. I would hope she would be familiar with it by now after so long, but it's convenient to put the audience ill at ease with unfamiliarity. After she opens the door, shaman-like people follow her to freak her out, further making Indian people scary. It's pretty offensive to set a film in a different country just to portray the people as only alien or mystics to put the audience on edge.

The film has a few bright moments. The mythology used in the film isn't Christian, which is refreshing. The whole reason why Oliver is becoming evil is because his soul can't move on and go through reincarnation. Instead, his soul is static in the living world to rot and become a malevolent force. Much of the imagery of the film is beautiful with an unexpected color palette. Jeremy Sisto is always enjoyable to watch and plays the long suffering husband well. Maria kind of redeems herself eventually. The ending was unexpected, but also left it open for a sequel that I won't watch. The film was boring to watch and borderline racist in their portrayal of the inhabitants of the country the filmmakers chose to set the film. I've pretty much given up on Alexander Aja's films at this point. They are either underwhelming or offensive.

My rating: 2/5 fishmuffins

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