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By Rory L. Aronsky | July 14, 2006

After watching a psychotic bespectacled locksmith, a psychotic abusive ex-husband, and a so-disturbed-it-should-give-you-a-clue-to-stay-away woman, I wonder what Alex’s governmental captors from “A Clockwork Orange” are up to. Do they take appointments? How expensive is it? Because after 68 minutes of pure amateurish filmmaking, and some character motivations stolen from other films such as “Sleeping with the Enemy”, I need to be reminded that there is still hope to be found in the movies. Nothing extensive. Just the same eyelid-raising experiment they did. Perhaps while watching clips from filmmakers who know what they’re doing.

“Stranger in the Doorway” features first-person point of view shots not used this extensively since Robert Montgomery’s “Lady in the Lake” in 1947. But as it is with the already meant-to-be-disturbing-but-it’s-silly music and the cops that talk like video game characters (even some cops in video games know what they’re talking about and don’t speak in clichés, such as telling one of their flunkies to break down a door or saying, “Other than these three?” when there’s said to be another body in the house), one of the first shots of one of the cops tromping up the stairs of the apartment building looks like a midget is making his way up. Would have been funny if it turned out that way, but we see nothing of the cops and really, nothing of the other characters except for the woman (Alinda Andrei), the man (Paul Howard) and the neighbor (Adam LeClaire), which is how filmmaker (and that word’s debatable) Chandra Kilaru was able to keep her budget at $5,500.

But here’s the funny thing about all this: After the long, arduous moments where the locksmith claims he’s there to change the locks and is tied down by the woman, and as he flashes back to traumatic times in his childhood and with a psychiatrist (which is only heard by voice and interestingly, when he kills her with a pen, the color red flashes on and off), this could have actually worked better as an overdramatic radio show. At least then, we wouldn’t be witness to the woman knocking out the intruder with a frying pan (why not a Gucci bag, with how blank she looks?), or the jerky camera effects, or even the looks of the characters themselves. And there’s not much to see anyway, with how low-lit all of this is, especially in the shots of first-person perspective. This entire film is a marvel of misfires, including the subplot involving the law’s search for a serial killer called “The Wolf” who could very well be in this madhouse apartment. And when it’s time for the obvious “twist”, there’s really no twist at all because what have we seen in all this time? A bunch of actors hepped up on their badly acted emotions. Literally nothing in character development that could rightfully call for any attention. It’s dangerous when a horror film that’s meant to be unsettling is only 68 minutes, but it’s even more of a challenge to get through those many minutes. Now, for the love of all that’s ever been holy on this earth, does anyone have the number of those governmental oppressors?!

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