The Open Door (2008)

DVD Cover (Phase 4 Films)
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Overall Rating 40%
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Ranked #7,178
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Catherine Munden
Catherine Munden
Sarah Christine Smith
Sarah Christine Smith
Ryan Doom
Ryan Doom
Daniel Booko
Daniel Booko
Mike Dunay
Mike Dunay
Review by Chad
Added: October 13, 2009
In the years that I've been running this site and receiving screeners courtesy of the filmmaker readers, I've come to notice that indie flicks tend to look alike in some regards. Whenever I pop one in, I expect to see rough video quality and subpar sound levels, but I tend to let these movies slide on those counts; after all, these are guys making movies on a budget, usually while trying to balance family and work lives at the same time. I also expect lackluster special effects and mediocre acting abilities, but again, I can overlook that unless it's particularly bad. Now, it may seem like I'm ragging on the indie guys too much, but I do love those movies: these guys aren't afraid to take chances and usually deliver some damned fine stories, but their lack of funds is obvious more times than not. I expected much the same from The Open Door, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the film suffered from none of those flaws - in fact, it's one of the slickest indie flicks I've seen in quite some time, and I wouldn't have been shocked at all if I had seen it in a theater instead of on a screener disc.

The storyline for this one centers around Angelica (Catherine Georges), an awkwardly-naive high school girl with a crush on school hottie Brad (Mike Dunay). With the help of her snobbish "best friend" Staci (Sarah Christine Smith), she hopes to turn that crush into something a little more involved, if you catch my drift. Unfortunately, her parents stand in her way at every turn. You see, there's a huge party coming up and Brad is expecting her to go with him, but she's grounded courtesy of coming in late a few weeks ago. This is where we start to discover that Staci may not have the purest of intentions when it comes to Angelica, and to make a long story short, it's also the point where Angelica finds herself heartbroken.

With her parents out of town for the night and all of her friends over at that party, she decides to turn on the radio and work on her homework. She stumbles across a pirate radio station that is only on the air during the full moon, and this is where things get odd. You see, this station is run by someone who refers to herself as The Oracle, and she claims that she can help anyone who calls in with anything that they need. Angelica decides to give it a shot, and after getting herself all worked up on the line, she hysterically tells The Oracle that she wishes her parents would leave her alone, she wishes that those who wronged her were out of her life, and she wishes that Brad would love her until his dying day. The Oracle hears her out, and replies with a simple "It's done." From there, we discover that there is definitely something to that mysterious woman on the radio, and Angelica discovers that she probably should have thought twice about those wishes... or at least worded them a little better.

It's readily apparent that the basic storyline here borrows from The Monkey's Paw, but the surrounding storyline more than makes up for that. You see, the film is a bit predictable because we know what will happen after she makes those wishes, but we don't know how it's going to happen, we don't know anything about The Oracle, and most importantly, we are too busy simply enjoying the atmosphere of the film, an atmosphere that does nothing less than absolutely suck us in. You may know some of what's coming, but you'll have a hell of a time watching it unfold regardless.

I've said this about other indie films, but folks, this is the one that takes the proverbial cake: The Open Door completely defies its indie roots, and nothing about it says "indie" or "low-budget" in any way. Everything about the film seems so polished and so perfectly crafted that I'm half tempted to believe that this was a big-budget Hollywood flick trying to pass for an indie release. Seriously, one of the big studios could scoop this up and send it out to theaters, and it would not look out of place in the slightest. Everything from the lighting to the shots to the audio to the special effects are completely spot-on, and though the acting wavers from time to time, it never dips below "perfectly acceptable" throughout the running time.

This one comes with my highest recommendations. It takes an old idea and makes it seem fresh again, it's a damned enjoyable horror offering, and best of all, the general plot leaves plenty of room for a sequel down the road if the filmmakers choose to take that route. Personally, I hope they do. I can't quite say that it's a perfect film as I would have liked to have seen the teen angst toned down just a tiny bit, but that's a very minor problem with all things considered. 9.5/10.
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