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Doors short film review

Updated: Jan 26, 2022


Directed by: #DennisCahlo

Written by:Dennis Cahlo, #BethanyWatson

Starring: Bethany Watson


I believe it is safe to say we have all experienced our share of isolation, alone in our home just trying to mind our own business. Then you hear it, a noise, a noise you’re not too sure of and then just as quickly as you heard it, curiosity becomes paranoia. Doors, a short film from writer-director Dennis Cahlo and writer-star Bethany Watson, captures that journey with efficient camerawork, music and a shocking ending. Primarily the work of minimal filmmaking, Cahlo keeps the film's action entirely within Watson’s home as she attempts to make sense of the audible disturbance.

Though Cahlo’s cinematography makes Doors more than just wandering through an apartment, making use of the space in memorable visual ways. The standout sequence is a one-shot that glides through various rooms as the music ratchets up for maximum effect in building intrigue. One room and one actor is a typical formula for forgettable short films but Cahlo doesn’t let the simplicity of the premise allow for a mundane execution. The majority of the apartment is a white colour scheme, possible clinical imagery or even angelic as the final scene definitely allows for interpretation on what exactly ails the character. A maddening illusion or inescapable damnation? Cahlo and Watson don’t give a straight answer but the mise-en-scène clues into possibilities.

Screenshot of the film showing the character screaming while bathed in red light

The notable visuals are not just the rush of the one-shot but also in the contrasting colour schemes. The calm white walls against striking reds, chiefly represented through Watson’s red checkered shirt and baseball bat before the whole image is engulfed in red light as seen in the supplied screenshot. Red itself is a very emotional colour; linked to both passion and anger but also reminiscent of the visual style of Giallo cinema, where deep reds are used to signify moments of horror and evil. Now Doors isn’t what I would define as Giallo but it’s another example of how Cahlo’s direction makes the premise more interesting.

The tension of the noise is also heightened by the use of music as Doors uses tracks from musicians Kadir Demir and Spearfisher. The track “The Scent” by Spearfisher is especially striking as it builds dread in the character, as if whatever taunts Watson is about to give chase. Now doors themselves represent the passage from one place to another, symbolically it can be a gateway to a whole different world as seen in famous pieces of literature and film. With Cahlo and Watson’s screenplay the doors opened within the character speak to menacing trauma and fears; horror within herself or terror of what lies outside.

Again perhaps it's both because Cahlo’s direction certainly inspires examination as Doors evades that feeling of random imagery in hopes of depth and puts across a clear intent of thoughtful artistry.




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