New Horror Releases: Never Open The Door (2016) - Reviewed

Never Open the Door is a horror movie (I guess?) where a group of friends are apparently secluded in the woods. Spooky stuff starts happening when an old guy comes in and starts coughing up blood everywhere. The movie is shot entirely in black and white and the music sounds too good for the movie it's in.

It opens with a neat little Twilight Zone nod, the camera follows along some strange shapes before cutting to the title. Then some shots of the woods with some extensive shaky-cam and boom, we’re with the characters at the table. Everyone’s talking and doling out exposition on their base relationships to each other, but most of it isn’t really substantial. They cut back to the shaky-cam every so often, but it doesn’t create any real sense of atmosphere, especially since the dialogue is simply annoying. There’s nothing that really grounds me into why they’re here, why everyone is eating together, or why I should really care. None of the characters particularly stand out to me as important with the few arcs they have coming off as dull as they are out of nowhere.

My biggest issue with this is it seems to never deliver on any sort of mood. It reads like it’s may be trying to be a humorous/campy horror flick, but it never leans into it enough to make the creators' intent feel clear and coherent. There’s also never enough tension built up for it to work as a straight, somewhat surreal, and psychological horror. I get the impression it’s trying to subvert my expectations in certain places, but it just doesn’t do much at all to build up my expectations in the first place. The entire pacing is just, “this happens, and then this happens, BUT THEN THIS HAPPENS!" The foundation isn't strong, so proceeding events just feel aimless. 

It’s really frustrating, too, because the music is going all out, and it just sounds better than the actual movie I’m watching. The music feels so ill-fit, but otherwise good throughout, and the production is decent. It’s just too apparent all the time, it never strikes me as particularly subtle and it goes all out whenever something Spooky™ is happening. It never gives me a sense of where things are going, it’s never ominous enough to draw me into whatever mood this was going for.

Dang. My head is all jacked up. Shouldn't have done so much blow. 

The acting throughout falls flat. I can’t tell if it’s an issue with the writing, the directing, or just the actors themselves. It might be a combination of the three. None of the characters seem to want to shut up for a minute and most of the time they aren’t saying anything worthwhile. Despite there being some back story, nobody feels strongly established besides the “funny guy” who’s mostly just obnoxious. The women are just whiney and the other two guys are bland. When one particularly bland character snaps, I can’t tell if it’s supposed to be surprising. Was I supposed to expect this from him? Was it a twist to try to make things more interesting?

I came out of this movie wondering what was the point. What was the story they were trying to tell? What was I supposed to enjoy about this feature? How was it trying to entertain me? I feel like these are never questions I should have to ask myself coming out of a movie. Everything was so soaked in mediocrity that it wasn’t even bad enough to get a good laugh out of it. It’s base competence almost feels like a hindrance.

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