Not only is this a cliche, but nothing comes of it from a story vantage point. At no other time does the evil manifest itself in this way. It is more bland than scary. However, Goforth does an excellent job of establishing the family. The interplay between Reed, Evelyn, and Kane is believable, and they make for a realistically flawed, yet loving, family unit.
A brief comment is made about Kane’s special needs, the reason he is attending the private school where his dad works (which is one of the reasons Reed works there is for a discounted tuition). But this angle is never explored beyond that one line, which means the audience doesn’t fully comprehend Kane’s troubles at school (he got into a fight). Since the family is so well established, examining more of their day to day routine and how the move changes that would have been much more stimulating than the awkward stabs at horror.
“…there is a fascinating and well-acted drama just underneath the surface, battling to get out.”
Helping Door In The Woods from being a total waste of time is the cast. John-Michael Fisher has a line reading or two that sounds a bit forced, but for the most part, he is good. His chemistry with his onscreen parents is absolutely incredible and really sells the family unit. David Rees Snell is fantastic as the put upon but caring husband/ father. His back and forth with Evelyn about how she wanted the door, and now wants it gone, is fun.
As Evelyn, Jennifer Pierce Mathus is excellent. Her empathy, worry, and frustration when learning of Kane’s fight feel genuine, as does her withered excitement over the door. When she goes into investigative mode to figure out the deal with the door, her conviction yet fears both come across equally. While I am reasonably sure this was unintentional, it is hard not to notice that CJ Snells winds up as the token magical African American in the film (he’s a person of color helping a white family via dark arts). He delivers a strong performance despite the groan-inducing trope at play. That couldn’t have been easy, so kudos to him.
Door In The Woods is a bad horror film because it never is able to frighten the viewer, not even with a cheap jump scare. However, there is a fascinating and well-acted drama just underneath the surface, battling to get out. I would love to watch that movie.