Doors Image


By Alex Saveliev | March 23, 2021

While solid, crisp imagery – a space helmet filled with rose petals, Kesh channeling Michel Gondry in a “tripping through rooms” sequence – renders this segment easy on the eyes, lines like “I am a prisoner to his ocean, waiting for his shapeless form to consume me” grate the ears. “This one’s huge,” a character comments about a door. “That’s what she said,” comes the knee-slapping response. Vince refers to rocks as “independent women,” and pointless title cards do little to explain the confusing-as-fu*k plot. The experience of watching Knockers is akin to staring at a pristine landscape while listening to death-metal being played backwards.

And then there’s Jeff Desom’s inconsequential Lockdown. Why the filmmakers chose this by-the-numbers short film, which brings to mind a thesis project by a group of high-schoolers, to open the anthology is anyone’s guess. The idea itself is nifty – witnessing the end of the world from a detention classroom – but it remains just that: an idea in search of a story. Among the trapped teens, the angsty, rebellious Ash (Kathy Khanh), who wears a jacket that says “fu*k them all” and doesn’t identify as “her,” is the protagonist of sorts. Vague radio broadcasts inform the kids about the ongoing apocalypse; birds slam against the windows; and Ash feels a subliminal alien force summoning them to the fluctuating, constantly-morphing door that blocks the hallway.

“…akin to staring at a pristine landscape while listening to death-metal being played backwards.”

The COVID-19 parallels are on-the-nose, as are the admittedly admirable stabs at queer motifs. I guess Lockdown could be viewed as a statement about alienation (one alien relating to another, exacting revenge upon popular kids), but the metaphor is flimsy and underdeveloped. In a short film, everything is compressed and accentuated, and here the weak dialogue and non-ending become especially glaring. “We don’t even know what’s out there,” a character says. “Out there is the exit,” comes the reply. Another character utters, “What if it takes us somewhere? Like, somewhere else?” Sadly, the plot takes us nowhere.

Doors oddly resembles another recent sci-fi anthology about interdimensional doorways, the (slightly) inferior Portals. Both cases present an intriguing notion that opens the door to endless possibilities for cinematic exploration. Lamaj comes closest to the sort of brain-twisting, tripped-out odyssey the anthology should have been had the filmmakers reined back on plot complications and focused on tingling our sense of wonder. I’ll make it simple: Lamaj gets an 8, Knockers a 5, and Lockdown a 4. The average is 5.6, so let’s round it up and move on with our lives.

Doors (2021)

Directed: Jeff Desom, Saman Kesh, Dugan O'Neal

Written: Jeff Desom, Ed Hobbs, Saman Kesh, Dugan O'Neal, Chris White

Starring: Josh Peck, Lina Esco, Wilson Bethel, Kyp Malone, Kathy Khanh, etc.

Movie score: 6/10

Doors Image

"…a space helmet filled with rose petals..."

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