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I had a chance to catch this at SUNDANCE.
It was probably the best movie I saw at the festival, though I only saw a handful of other films.
It's a solid debut by Chris Gorak and not a waste of 90 minutes. The setup is very good, as is the pacing and cinematography. They made the most out of what little money they had.
I have to say that at times it bordered on horrifying, and could've been classified as a horror film if some of those moments continued. Since I've lived in Los Angeles for about five years, I was particularly affected by the scenario. It's a very real possibility LA could be hit with a dirty bomb, and the repercussions would probably be similar to what's in the film.
It does suffer from some holes and stretches in logic and performance, but most thrillers do, so that's not necessarily a slam.
I can't say I liked the ending, but I was gripped by the story and the way it was shot.
A solid thriller.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Brad and Lexi are an unremarkable couple, no different from anyone
else. Brad is an out of work musician, while Lexi, his spouse and the
sole breadwinner, must face the daily drudge of commuting to her office
job each day. The two have just moved into a modest bungalow in
suburban Los Angeles, leaving Brad with the task of unpacking their
things while Lexi is off at work.
Thus begins the banality of everyday life that is the backdrop for director/screenwriter Chris Gorak's thriller "Right at Your Door". In slowly escalating, turn-of-the-screw fashion, Brad and Lexi's lives, along with those of the entire city of LA, are thrown into panic when, shortly after Lexi departs for work, terrorists detonate truck bombs at various points throughout the city, releasing unknown and potentially lethal contaminants into the air.
Most of us can remember where we were, and the confusion took hold during the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, and it's precisely this state that Gorak taps into with Right at Your Door. His masterstroke comes from the decision to leave the audience as much in the dark as Brad, as he struggles to glean more info from his radio and whatever phone calls he can make as the networks become overloaded.
His panic and subsequent survival decisions are motivated as much by self preservation as they are for concern about his wife, about whose welfare he knows nothing.
As the city descends into the grip of martial law, Brad faces the task of sealing himself inside the house with duct tape and plastic, only to find himself confronted by the dilemma of what to do about his wife when she manages to make her way home, gravely ill, though the toxic wasteland that LA has become.
The first half of Right at Your Door is as gripping as any movie you're likely to see, however Gorak's screenplay becomes bogged down in chatter between Brad and Lexi that allows the tension to evaporate and only serves to slow the film to a crawl. By the time the story arrives at its climax, it's almost a relief from the stagnation and boredom that nearly kills this initially promising film.
In the end, the movie relies on a twist to bring about its conclusion, and does manage to leave the viewer pondering several "what ifs", which, I suppose, was Gorak's intention. The sad part is, one of those "what ifs" is how much better this movie would have been with a tighter third act.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
How do you make a modern day disaster movie? The main rule is play on the public fear and what is more frightening than the current climate of terror? So here we have Right At Your Door. A loving couple (or are they?) living together, working apart, he a struggling musician and she a city girl. It's a simple enough story, she leaves for work while he stays home and someone (for it is never said who) sets off a series of bombs across Los Angeles. Panicky husband try's everything to reach his wife before being told to go home. As more information comes through it turns out they were dirty bombs, toxic and lethal. With the aid of a neighbour's handyman, who has nowhere else to go, they reluctantly seal themselves in the house and wait. Filmed in a low-fi, hand held manner adds to the air of confusion and panic that besets the first half of the film. When his wife arrives back at the house in the now grey covered suburb it turns into a strange love/survival story. He's inside and she's out. What transpires next is a series of teary conversations through glass and plastic and via mobiles that could mirror any frantic calls made on 9/11 or 7/7. The film uses fade to blacks a lot to give the impression of passing time because in the hour and a half we go through three days with the separated couple. Help is seemingly not a lot of help at all and a bizarre twist wraps the whole thing up. One of the films most niggling questions is that of is she having an affair? Her reluctance to have sex with her husband, her throw away comment about ignoring the voice mails she has left on his phone and a random male work college turning up at the house to take her to hospital. None of these are explored or answered in the course of the film. Bleak and punctuated with loose ends the film is an uneasy and fictitious look at something that could all too easily be a reality. It's watchable and interesting if slightly flawed and poses questions of love and morality in an uncertain world. Watch right at your door and pray it never is.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a movie of two halves. This movie has been seriously over-rated
by some critics. It's not a bad idea but there's not enough here to
justify a 90+ minute movie. At best, it would make a fair, maybe
hour-long episode of "The Twilight Zone" or "The Outer Limits". The
tension and confusion at the start well conveys the panic and ignorance
of those affected but once action is confined to the house and most of
what is going on has been exposed, there is little left to keep the
drama going. The over-reactions of characters at times leaves us
feeling like we are looking at children rather than adults. In fact,
the child in the movie is the only one not to over-react. The twist,
when it does come, comes too late. I already hated everyone in the
movie and was just waiting and waiting for the death to happen. The
fact that the husband rather than the wife initially died really didn't
move me. The fact that the wife probably won't die did leave me feeling
cheated. She had been close to ground zero and exposed for days so if
anyone should die, then she should. For me, there are just too many
occurrences that I find implausible.
This is another movie that I will be happy to never watch again.
A basic plot summary follows so you never have to go through the pain of actually watching this movie.
The first half of the story is a tense, feral journey through one man's experiences as bombs, which later turn out to be dirty bombs, explode on the morning commuter crowds streaming into Los Angeles. One of those commuters is his wife and his confusion and panic is increased due to the fact that they are new to the city, that radio reports are patchy and that vital services such as electricity and telecommunications are not working as they should. We follow him around as he desperately tries to track down where his wife is and as he prepares for the worst. Shortly afterward, both he and the Hispanic handyman from next door, who has pleaded to be be given shelter in this man's home as his own is too far away to safely get to safely, finally finish sealing the house, his wife arrives home. She is dusty and bloody and has a bad cough, which is put down to the toxins and microbial pathogens in the dust from the dirty bombs. She is naturally somewhat upset at being locked out but she is not let back into the house despite the difficult emotions and basic instincts involved.
So now comes the awful second half. She then she breaks one of the glass panes with her mobile phone that lands on the floor covered in toxic dust thus breaking the protective seal of the house. The man of the house merely covers this threat with a blanket - implausible act number 1 (and possibly implausible act #2 if you accept that no wife would risk her husband's health in such a way but we'll write that off as panic). Rory Cochrane then repeats his "bug shower" scene from "A Scanner Darkly", but this time with a bottle of bleach, in order to cleanse himself from the toxic dust contact (in fact most of his darting paranoid looks seem to work equally well in both movies). He still leaves the phone and dust covered with a blanket though!! The handyman from next door decides that he has to get home, no matter what the risk, despite his earlier stoicism in the face of this episode - implausible. The wife then finds a child that has come out of a car with its alarm turned on, i.e. the child exits a car in the street, it's alarm goes off - how did he get into it without alarm going off? Who put the alarm on after he got in? - implausible. The wife avoids police, army and helicopter patrols to get to and return from hospital, where the authorities take the kid she's found for treatment but turn her away and let her go. Why then were we shown, in earlier scenes, cops taking people off streets by handcuffing them and bundling them into vans, but now find out that they're ignoring everyone gathered outside the hospitals? - implausible. In the meantime, a specialist group of army technicians and possibly doctors (it's not clear) come to the house, question the sole occupant and take away a sample, for analysis, of the dust that is still just sitting there under the blanket. Wow, it almost sounds action-packed when I type it out. Believe me, it is not. So, we now know there has been widespread contamination outside, we know that the wife was very close to the initial explosions when they happened downtown, we know that she has been exposed to this dust for days and we expect that she must now die. We wait, and wait, and wait for this to happen. Numerous attempts at "moments of emotion" later, the guys in the chem-suits are back. They grab the wife and then .... tell the husband that his non-air-conditioned house has incubated the bomb's organisms and the sealed environment has meant that his house now has a deadly concentration of same. How they can tell the concentration of a virus in the air from a sample of dust on the ground is anyone's guess - implausible! They board up the house, with him still inside, and gas it inside a chemical control tent. The wife is told that she'll probably survive (despite having just coughed up a nice little lump of semi-congealed blood) - implausible. The End!
Right At Your Door taps into the current climate of fear caused by
international terrorism, with a tale of a 'dirty' bomb attack on
downtown Los Angeles that results in a cloud of toxic dust engulfing
nearby residential areas.
Focusing on a married couple caught up in the disaster, the film seeks to wring tension from a rather inspired and decidedly awkward situation which sees husband Brad (Rory Cochrane) safely sealed inside his house (as instructed by the authorities), when his contaminated (and now potentially deadly) wife Lexi (Mary McCormack) turns up outside, demanding to be let in.
Such an intense situation requires class-A dialogue, top notch acting, and flawless plotting from start to finish in order to succeed, and, at first, it seems as though Right At Your Door might have what it takes: the promising opening, in which Brad gradually realises what is happening and then desperately attempts to locate his wife in all of the confusion, is well realised.
Unfortunately, as the film progresses and the action becomes concentrated on the dilemma faced by the terrified Brad and Lexi, too many mundane scenes of chit-chat, the inclusion of a couple of pointless characters, and some very ill-considered moments that really take some swallowing, ultimately mean that the movie fails to maintain its tension.
Towards the end, obviously sensing that his script desperately needs a boot up the rear, writer/director Chris Gorak tacks on a last minute 'shock' twist ending, but it is so far fetched that it is unable to save the film from being yet another example of a good idea let down by a poorly constructed script.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
THIS REVIEW DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS
From the moment that I heard about this film by seeing the trailer, I knew, somehow, that it would be different from any other thriller. And I thought this primarily based on the distributor of the film. Lionsgate Films has now become famous all across the world for licensing forthright, hard-hitting, emotional, and generally controversial films, that hardly any other studio would take on (such as the Saw franchise, Hostel, The Descent, Hard Candy, Crash, and the remake of the British horror classic The Wicker Man). You could pretty much say, that Lionsgate Films have developed a highly thought of position in the film industry, and come across as a distribution company with 'no holes barred'.
Also, the plot line showed a large amount of interest to me. In the time of 'Post 9/11 Paranoia', any film with a terrorism link has developed a huge amount of hype with the media, and this is no exception. Sure, it isn't shrouded in limelight like United 93 and World Trade Centre, but they have reason to be. Any film with terrorism as a theme is bound to generate a fair amount of interest, and if anything, a reasonable amount of tension, and at the start of the film, it does, more than any other film I've seen.
In a way, it is unfair to compare United 93 and World Trade Centre to this, because they are not related storyline wise (well, not as much for United 93. World Trade Centre, maybe). The basic plot line of this film is the main character (Brad), who sends his wife off to work as normal, but the whole situation is rocked by the fact that multiple Dirty Bombs were detonated in Los Angeles. Brad becomes panicked, and is worried sick about his wife. And as the situation worsens, his tensions get higher.
The Film opens with the word of numerous explosions rocking LA. And word comes in that the explosions were from the downtown area and the Beverly Hills area. You can hear explosions in the background noise; you see buildings burning, flames in the sky, and huge clouds of black dominating the LA skyline. You then hear that a bomb has been detonated at Los Angeles International Airport. We see Brad becoming more and more anxious about his wife not being home, her not answering any of his calls, and as the situation becomes more deadly (because we finally hear that toxic chemicals were released in the explosions, and are now traveling in the clouds), then you really begin to feel upset and angry for Brad, because the fact that neither he, nor the viewers, know if his wife is alive or not.
However, from the moment that you find out his wife is alive, and has been exposed quite badly to the toxic cloud, the film dramatically looses nearly all of the tension that had developed in the beginning of the film. The wife (Lexi) plays hell at him for not letting him in after he has sealed the house so none of the toxins can get into the house. In frustration, she throws her cell phone through the window. Which, from a love and humanity point of view, was purely ridiculous, but you will find out why, later on, it was the right thing to do.
So, after loosing most of the tension about wondering whether she was alive or not, the tension now shifts to what happens to her. After he has been isolated from her own husband, and is trapped outside the house. After spending what seemed like an hour to-ing and fro-ing from character to character, we finally have some army guys showing up to find out if people are OK or not. They declare the house as a "Red Flag", then bugger off again somewhere. And then, we're back to the fact that his wife is STILL alive, coughing and stuff after being exposed to the clouds for 3 days.
Then, the army guys come back at the end of the film, take the wife away, and seals the house down with Brad still inside it. It turns out that the house had become a breeding ground to the toxins, and it was growing at a massive rate because of the fact that some of the toxin got into the house when Lexi threw her phone through the window, and when he sealed the house up, the temperature in the house went up, the toxin began to multiply. So, the army boarded up the house, and gassed the house, with Brad still inside.
Now, the major problem i have with that is, If the house had become a breeding ground for the toxin, why was his wife showing far more severe symptoms for longer than he was? I think it was because she was exposed to the cloud sooner, but Brad didn't even start to show symptoms. Meh, i guess a film will have it's plot holes...
Well, aside from the lame-ass ending and the fact we find his wife alive about 20 minutes into the film sort of ruined it for me. The first 20 - 30 minutes of it were amazing. From a cinematographic point of view, it was just amazing, The writing and directing skills of Chris Gorak were just stunning for a first time writer and director, although the ending could have been a lot better
So, i would say 7/10 for this movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Yes, this movie is actually retarded.
The idea is good, I will give them credit for that. But the execution is just a boring movie with horrible editing.
First of all, why do we have to watch a minute of 2 people taping up a house??? 10 seconds is fine, we get the point!!! There are more holes in this movie than in a brick of swiss cheese. The dumbest one is the whole "twist". Supposedly some sort of bomb is spreading an illness to anybody who can't seal their home. The symptoms are severe coughing, and at the end the female main character (who's name I don't care about) looks as pale as a ghost. So the twist is the girl who was outside almost the whole movie, who was coughing, turning white and throwing up, was able to be saved. While the guy who sealed his home, and showed absolutely no symptoms (This guy didn't even sneeze!!), was infected beyond saving. Um... What?! If the guy was so infected, why didn't he show even one sign of it? And why was his wife, who was coughing up a lung, able to be rescued and presumably cured. (I say presumably because you never really know if she was cured or not, you just see her getting medical attention and being told she can be saved)
Then there's the hole that the main character taped up his entire house, and won't even let his wife in. But when she throws a cell phone through a window, he just leaves the ash that comes in his home and does nothing about it. This guy is paranoid as hell and willing to let his own wife die, but he somehow doesn't mind a pile of ash sitting in his kitchen? Then we have to believe that this small pile of ash mutates in 3 days, and becomes what they call "airborne".
If the original "ash disease" wasn't airborne, then why was the whole city getting sick? Why was his wife coughing up blood if she wasn't exposed to the "airborne ash"? We have to buy this BS about the ashes magically becoming airborne. It was snowing ash like it was winter in LA, and all of that ash falling down didn't become airborne. But the little pile of ash inside the main character's house mutated for absolutely no reason. (Don't expect them to explain it, like everything else in this movie)
Every character in the movie (other than the 2 main ones) jump in and out of the movie for no reason. This Mexican guy was working next door, but he somehow decides to move in with the main character. Why didn't he stay in the house he was working in? Then, all of a sudden he has to leave to be with his wife, who no one in his family has seen since the explosion. Then there's the little boy Timmy. He's in the movie at the start, and the main character sends him home. Then halfway through, he comes back, and still he has no purpose. Thankfully, the wife takes him to the hospital, and we don't have to see him anymore. Again, that little boy serves absolutely no purpose in the movie. Then there's the wife's friend. He suddenly shows up at their back door (after a "scary" flashlight scene), and the next thing you know, him and the guy's wife leave to go to the hospital. When the wife returns, she says her friend shot a bunch of people and then drove off. What the? What was the point of him being in the movie?
Then there's the 2 main characters. The movie spends way too much time on pointless dialog between them. The wife is completely annoying. Apparently Mary McCormack (the actress who plays the wife) thinks screaming and being a nut is considered acting. Maybe that's why all she can get are low budget movies. The male main character was flat, boring and irrational. He tapes himself and a Mexican stranger inside his house, but lets his wife in and the Mexican guy out. Then when a bunch of ash gets thrown in (cell phone scene), he just leaves it there. He doesn't even seal off that part of his house. And no, he doesn't avoid that room.
And we can't forget the fact that at the beginning of the movie, the male desperately tries to find his wife (who was downtown). But police sealed off all roads leading to the city core. Somehow his wife gets back home. This is never explained, because you can't explain it. If the male can't get into downtown, how can she get out? If the creator of this movie is retarded, then I forgive him. Otherwise there's no excuse for a bad script and plot. Sure this is a low budget movie. But these types of movies are supposed to make up for their lack of funds with stellar dialog & plot. This movie has nothing. No money, bad dialog, and a slow, boring, pointless plot.
If you like dumb movies, this Right At Your Door is for YOU!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
So, the story begins with an average couple, the unemployed musician
husband, Brad(Rory Cochrane), is already up, making coffee and running
a shower for his wife, Lexi(Mary McCormack). Soon after she leaves for
work he hears reports on the radio of multiple explosions in Downtown
LA. He tries calling his wife, no answer. So after a bit of walking
about the house frantically,causing me to have a headache as the camera
was all over the place, he gets in his car to attempt to reach her. He
gets a burst tyre and turns into a garage, when he returns to his car
the reports now say a dirty bomb was detonated. So he goes back in the
garage and gets duct tape to ceil(sp?) the house, then returns
home...giving up rather easily on the woman he supposedly loves.
Once home an older Mexican man intrudes on the house and persuades Brad to let him stay. They Ciel the house after waiting a bit to see if Lexi will come home, but, oh dear! She comes home little after they've ceiled the house. Now, again, the woman Brad loves so much, comes home, coughing up blood, covered in smoke etc. Would you not let her in? even if it meant u maybe becoming infected? Considering you want to live and die with this person.
Selfishly she breaks a window, he quickly covers it back up. Later the old Mexican man leaves, to be with his wife..Still Brad isolates his. Lexi goes wandering and sees a small boy, Timmy, who was earlier in the film.
Lexi goes to the hospital with the kid, soldiers in contamination suits come to the house when she's gone and take a sample of ash from when Lexi broke the window. She returns, turned away from the hospitals, and then the two sit there, for a good ten/twenty minutes, talking. The men return and take Lexi away from the house...By this point i couldn't give a damn what happened to the characters, as the acting, story and general presentation of the film has failed to keep me interested or feel for the characters.
The twist. The twist is something that wasn't really a twist, it was in all honesty, as the whole idea of the dirty bomb is to intoxicate all those who encounter it, which the bomb hasn't done. I won't say the twist, but by the time it happens, you won't even care.
Bad story, good initial idea. Mediocre acting, uneventful script, and the camera work was just plain, amateur. I spent £7 to see this film, me and my two friends with whom I saw it with, were very disappointed.
This may have been the worst film I have ever seen, it's certainly in the top 10 worst films. Horrendously poor.
When a series of dirty bombs are set off in Los Angeles the populace
are told to stay indoors with windows and doors sealed. Brad's wife was
in the area of the attacks though, so his priority is to get to her and
make sure she is safe. With the authorities shutting down all the major
roadways, Bard is forced to return home and start securing the house
with the help of the labourer from next door, who has no way of getting
to his own home. With only the radio for information, Brad waits for
any news while, at the same time, an exposed Lexi tries to get back
This was a reasonably topical film at the time, perhaps not "hot on the heels" of 9th September 2001, but the fear of terrorist attacks on the West had not subsided five years later and indeed it is still a button that can be pushed as we saw even as recently as 2008's US election. As a result I did want to see this but just never got round to doing so until the other week, mainly because it never showed up much on video or television for some reason. The film opens with its strongest card the attacks, the initial panic, the initial fear and the initial moral questions. All of this is good and it does touch a nerve. The problem comes when the film has played that card and cannot get much more mileage from the emotions that many viewers will already have. This gives us a second half (or the remaining two-thirds to be honest) that doesn't work as well at all.
The plot brings characters in and out, has little things to fill the time and none of it ever convinces in the way the opening third did. It doesn't help that we don't really ever get into the characters so we don't feel a terrible lot for the people and indeed end up just questioning what they are doing and thinking mainly because they are not real to us so we don't accept what they are doing. It heads towards a conclusion that would work well on the Twilight Zone perhaps but here it just seems like a dramatic way to finish for the sake of having a dramatic finish rather than fitting with the characters and narrative than I had just spent 90 minutes on. The cast are not the blame because they do give solid turns particularly McCormack and Cochrane. OK the child (Noyd) is weak but in fairness so was his character.
Overall Right at Your Door opens well and the "pitch" concept is delivered upon pretty well. When it comes down to having another 60 minutes to fill after this though, it is not that good and it doesn't convince or engage as it should. A shame but as a total film it is average at best and instead of being part "realistic emotional drama" and part "Twilight Zone-esquire thriller" it would have been better shorter, simpler and filmed as a Twilight Zone episode.
The film opens with an unemployed musician, played by Rory Cochrane who
was great in A Scanner Darkly but can't seem to flesh out his hero here
past a certain point, showing a tender servile nature by making a cup
of latté for his wife Lexi, played by Mary McCormack, who is still in
bed. She soon leaves for work and Cochrane is at home alone. Time
passes and over the radio he hears that numerous alleged dirty bombs
have been set off across downtown Los Angeles. He sees significant
quantities of smoke mounting from the city center. His instantaneous
judgment is for his wife and her wellbeing so he drives in the
direction of the city center to find her.
While it is a small-budgeted dramatic film more than anything it may seem to have pretensions about being, Right at Your Door shows several real matters Homeland Security planners are under immense pressure to handle like the interference with telecommunication because of so many calls, or the worried well who assemble to hospitals and emergency shelters and overpower emergency services, a great deal about the threat of contaminated people coming into hospitals and the necessity for facilities in which to work on decontamination. There are troubles through risk communication to the general public, the dilemma of enforcing containment after a biological attack, and the potential benefit of the Postal Service to circulate medications. It is resourceful to weave these predicaments into a dramatic narrative, a fundamentally theatrical one at that, one that is dialogue-driven more than anything.
However this standard LA-based twist-dependent thriller also uses many erroneous facets like, frankly, the use of the term "dirty bomb," or a biological agent used as an additive in a bomb, and Homeland Security recommending for people to seal a single room sooner than the entire home. Even though this paranoid thriller maintains as a vital element to the story that a virus can develop and become more lethal just by being confined, a virus needs the infection of a living thing to reproduce.
Right At Your Door taps into the present feeling of apprehension brought about by worldwide terrorism, with a fable of an attack on downtown LA that causes a haze of toxic dust overcoming adjacent suburbs, where many people generally feel the safest. Concentrating on a married couple mired in the catastrophe, Chris Gorak's script aims to squeeze frantic drama from a somewhat clever and unquestionably thorny circumstance which perceives Cochrane securely sealed inside his house as instructed by people in charge, when his infected and now possibly lethal wife McCormack arrives insisting to be allowed to enter. Such a strong dramatic conflict needs dialogue, acting, and plotting that are just as strong all the time to make it.
Alas, as the exactly ninety-minute-long film advances and the conflict grows determined upon the catch-22 challenging the fate of the two petrified leads, an excess of humdrum scenes of inert dialogue and some especially half-baked moments that put a strain on suspension of disbelief in the end lead the movie to fail to sustain its tautness.
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