Directed by: #MaximillianAguiar
The Doors Between Us is a hard watch. Not because of a challenging subject matter, but because it’s so poorly put-together and executed. The premise is simple: four groups of two people, each locked in a room with another person who seems to be their polar opposite and with no idea how they got there. What should have been a tension-filled character study is instead an incoherent, overlong, and oft obnoxious back-and-forth between eight deeply unlikeable characters.
The Doors Between Us does get off to a good start. The camera flies towards the house, twisting as it goes, in glorious black and white, while the ominous humming of the film’s score helps to set a mood of impending dread. Indeed, both the soundtrack and Eric Paton’s cinematography, particularly the exterior shots, are consistent and strong throughout. However, the exterior shots are few and far between and the interior shots, which make up the bulk of the film, are nowhere near as visually pleasing. It’s okay, the film doesn’t need anything spectacular in that regard. The technical aspects of this film certainly have some redeeming qualities, sadly, they aren’t nearly enough to remedy the film’s other shortcomings.
One of the most significant issues for me and the first one you’re likely to notice is the characters themselves. First off, the character introduction, a crucial moment in any film that’s supposed to help us to empathise with these people, is, instead, 15-minutes of near incoherent babbling, unconvincing angry shouting, and less than witty insults being thrown around. Because of this, we (the viewer) get off to a bad start with pretty much all of the characters. This is a problem the film is never able to resolve, mainly due to a weak script (“Touch my stick.” “Only if you touch my bed.”) and almost nonexistent character development. The performances, too, overplay the contrasts between the characters and regularly feel forced, awkward, and, occasionally, offensive.
There is an attempt, however, to wrap the film up with a message of acceptance in each other’s differences—which is commendable. But it’s ill-judged, poorly executed, and meaningless with the lack of any significant character development. But what’s worse is the fact several of the characters don’t get a resolution at all; their fates are left unknown. This, for a film with an almost 2-hour long runtime, is a huge problem. And at nearly 2-hours in length, The Doors Between Us crawls along at an achingly slow pace, which is dragged out right until the end. I became disengaged from this film on more than a few occasions for this reason.
There’s no justification for the film’s runtime, and most of it is spent going back and forth with the same old arguments between the characters, who really don’t seem to learn anything. At the same time, we learn absolutely nothing about why these people are held captive or who has done it. The characters themselves can be quite problematic, with certain portrayals and (re)actions being more than a little insensitive. With a bit of tightening up, a shorter length and more concise writing, The Doors Between Us could have been an interesting film; a character study on tolerance. Unfortunately, it just isn’t.