Horror/sci-fi anthologies are a dime a dozen these days. It’s a nifty concept – multiple filmmakers contributing their unique visions to a unifying theme or genre – that unfortunately tends to suffer from a lack of tonal consistency and fluctuations in quality. The latest one, Doors, from the team that brought you Southbound and V/H/S, falls into this same trap. Consisting of three segments, this hit-and-miss cinematic jumble imagines our world being taken over by the titular otherworldly gateways. Their origins and purpose remain ambiguous throughout, which some may find tantalizing, while others will deem infuriating.
The lack of any coherent explanation, almost as if the filmmakers themselves weren’t quite sure what to make of their creation, isn’t the only aspect that’s bound to frustrate viewers. The choice to have the doors communicate with their subjects via title cards is questionable, to say the least (is that font Calibri or, wait, Cambria?). The notion of parallel dimensions is so intriguing that there was no need to pile so much needless, convoluted narrative on top of it. That’s why the third segment, Dugan O’Neal’s Lamaj, works best. It’s the most succinct, effective, and minimalist of the bunch.
“…half of the population has vanished, either by voluntarily walking through the cosmic gates or (I assume) being lured into them…”
Scientist Jamal (Kyp Malone) lives in seclusion in an isolated cabin in the woods. By this point, the aforementioned doors have taken over the Earth. Something like half of the population has vanished, either by voluntarily walking through the cosmic gates or (I assume) being lured into them. One of these portals happens to have landed right next to Jamal’s woodsy spot, so he attempts to communicate with the entity via a complex system of wires. When it finally talks back to him, Jamal gets so excited that he invites his ex, whose boyfriend stirs up trouble… only to pay for it dearly. The less said about Lamaj, the better, but at under 20 minutes, it’s 20 times more effective than the rest of Doors.
Fittingly, the second segment, Saman Kesh’s Knockers, is second-best, although it bites off way more than it can chew. It’s also the longest and most patience-testing of the three. During a mournful montage of emptied cities and desolate landscapes (presumably shot during lockdown), a radio DJ informs us of folks who volunteer to step through the mysterious doors (nicknamed, of course, “knockers”). Among these brave (or stupid, depending on how you look at it) souls are couple Becky (Lina Esco) and Vince (Josh Peck), the latter experiencing a sort of psychosis during his 12-minute journey, the former faced with an impossible choice.
"…a space helmet filled with rose petals..."