Sunday, August 4

Some quick thoughts on DOOR (1988)

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After several strangely threatening calls from a local salesman, a homemaker becomes increasingly afraid to answer her apartment door. The phone subsides and later upon a knock she answers only to be greeted by the same voice. The saleman's hand is painfully jammed when he tries to reach inside with a business flyer as she slams the door shut. 

He furiously kicks at the door and vows she's just made a grave mistake. In the following days, it becomes clear the disgruntled man is stalking her and her young son. After finding the apartment accidentally unlocked, he slips in and greets her with a knife.

Bluntly put, the simplistic plot of Banmei Takahashi's Door is the kind of generic fare seen in television movies made for those soccer mom-centric channels no one watches. A scared-to-death yet attractive mother stalked and cornered at home by an armed psycho where she alone must defend her and her child. Naturally, her husband is busy with a deadline at work and the next door neighbor is some old lady who couldn't care less. And everything generally plays out in that no-frills fashion. Some scenes possess outlandish logic, like the fact a small chainsaw, that just happens to be on a balcony, is obviously electric and that never plays into its use even when the power trips off. However; this gap and others might be explained if it weren't for my near total inability to comprehend Japanese.

Takahashi manages to keep the threadbare story interesting with direction that captures a queasy intimacy between the woman and her attacker. In particular one sequence involving a continuous overhead shot of the two struggling from room-to-room evokes a bit of Dario Argento's masterful crane-assisted tracking shot in Tenebrae (1982). Door also does something not usually seen in a Lifetime TV movie. In defense of her son, the mother violently lashes out with the camera never shying away as he's stabbed and struck repeatedly into a bloody mess. We even get a nasty shot of a long barbecue fork jammed into his cheek and he wrenching it out causing a large chunk to rip away. That magical corded chainsaw that's never plugged in also makes one final appearance...

Door doesn't seem to have any video releases outside of an unsubtitled Japanese VHS and DVD. It spawned two sequels, Door II: Tokyo Diary (1991) and the Kiyoshi Kurosawa directed Door III (1996). Unfortunately, there's no videos of the first film on YouTube, but there is a clip from the paranormal themed Kurosawa sequel that echoes probably the most famous scene in his later Pulse (Kairo) (2001).

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