Right at Your Door

Right at Your Door

Film review by: Witney Seibold

mary_mccormack1.jpg

            With a title like “Right at Your Door,” and the copious use of words like “dirty bomb” and “chemical attack,” this new thriller from writer/director Chris Gorak (art director for “Fight Club” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”) aims to be edgy and topical; a film that wants to trade on the national paranoia about Terrorists on Our Doorstep. It’s a really cheesy and soon-to-be-dated premise, but I guess I can buy it. If I can watch episodes of the incredibly taut, but undeniably jingoistic “24,” than I can accept “Right at Your Door.”

 

            In “RAYD,” a bomb goes off in the middle of downtown L.A., and spreads a noxious cloud of poison all over the city. Survivors are encouraged to seal themselves inside, and not touch any of those poor souls directly exposed, as they are also now poisonous. I can buy that as well. I’ve seen weirder death devices in James Bond movies.

 

            The hero of our story, househusband Brad (Rory Cochran) bids his wife Lexi (Mary McCormack) farewell for the work day, only to see a huge cloud covering downtown about an hour later (the shots of the rising cloud are the best in the film). He tries calling Lexi, but the phones are all busy. He flees to his car, but the roads are suddenly jammed with emergency vehicles. He quietly panics and returns home, hoping for a call from her. His neighbor’s handyman (Tony Perez) is there waiting for him, also panicking. The radio advises them to seal themselves in, so they quickly find all the tape and plastic in the house, and do so. It’s not until then that Lexi, coughing and hysterical, returns home. She is incensed that he will not let her in (she even breaks a window with her cellular phone), but they spend the entire movie on either side of plastic. Brad eventually seals himself in smaller and smaller so she has more and more access to the house. Even this I can buy. The character dynamics in such a situation have potential, and the tragedy of an emergency separating you from a loved on is very palpable.

 

            Then, when a few days have passed, and the poison has floated all over the city, the military are called in. Cops have been shooting people who are poisonous, and martial law is instated. There are rumors of medical help stations throughout the city to uncontaminate the contaminated, but there are also rumors that the military are killing all the poisonous people.

 

            I don’t buy it anymore. Martial law? Why? The survivors are all sealed in. the people outside are all poisoned. THE AIR IS POISONOUS! No one wants to go outside. Why instate a curfew and have cop cars patrolling the streets at night? Are they afraid of the infected fleeing the city? That’s reasonable. But then why not just set up a perimeter around the poisoned area? Why shoot and/or gas everyone they find wandering the streets?

 

            Other military people show up at Brad and Lexi’s house, and ask him cryptic things like “Do you have any pets?” and “Has anyone been inside?” They offer no help, and are always wearing big creepy gasmasks. They wave guns around, and offer no advice. None of the cops or military men I this film behave like the cops or military actually would. They offer no real help.

 

            I think part of the “topical fear” that the director wants to insert is a phobia of our own military. They are trained to kill, and they don’t seem to be helping the Iraqis very well right now, so what happens when they’re in charge of helping us? The military only function in “Right at Your Door” as a cheap mysterious villain. And ones that don’t behave very logically at that.

 

            Oh, and there’s a twist at the end, and I’m going to give it away. I want you to all know that I do this only when the twist ruins the film, and not when I’m feeling particularly arrogant.

 

            It turns out that the poisonous people wandering the streets, despite what we’ve been led to believe, are treatable. The military catch Lexi and drag her to a van, and then tell Rory that the broken windowpane and cellular phone from earlier in the movie let in a particularly lethal dose of poison. He is the most infected person in the city (even though he is not coughing). They nail up his house and gas him to death.

 

            Groan.

             “Right at You Door,” with its shaky camera work, quiet pumping music (by tomandandy), grainy photography, and natural dialogue, wants to be dark and edgy and realistic; A thriller, like “United 93” before it, that deals with a current political fear in a true-to-life manner. The difference, though, is that “United 93” was a good film. “Right at Your Door” falls into most of the ludicrous plot traps that all too many thrillers fall into. Had the director added some gloss to the production, and cast some inappropriately conspicuous movie stars, then at least some Hollywood bloat would have saved it.            

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Published in: on August 30, 2007 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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