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After the success of horror films such as The Babadook and The Witch, both of which provide deeper scares with its insight into the trials of human nature as well as the blood shown on the screen; The Other Side of the Door is the latest entry into this revival of psychological horror.
Maria (Sarah Wayne Callies), Michael (Jeremy Sisto), and their daughter Lucy (Sofia Rosinsky) are an American family living in Mumbai trying to pick up the pieces of their lives after a personal tragedy. Maria’s son Oliver died in a horrible accident and she has not stopped blaming herself since. After a failed suicide attempt, her housekeeper Piki (Suchitra Pillai) offers Maria a reprieve, by telling her that there is a supernatural way for her to say her final goodbyes to her son. The only caveat is that she cannot try to free her son from the other realm where his spirit is residing. Maria immediately travels this mysterious cave that Piki tells her about, and she attempts to say goodbye to Oliver. But her guilt will not let him go. Oliver’s spirit returns to his former home and it is openly welcomed by Maria and Lucy. He interacts as if he’s never left; but slowly his behavior delves into the sinister. And he does not come back alone.
The Other Side of the Door unsuccessfully attempts to be deeper than it really is. Maria is obviously in agony over what happened to Oliver, but I never really connected with her pain. Considering that Lucy seems to be the same age that Oliver was when the accident took place, one can conclude that the accident did not happen that long ago, so her pain should be raw and fresh. But throughout all these horrible events that happen when Oliver returns she never really seems scared. It may be because she Maria is so deep into depression that she has nothing to lose, but anyone would be terrified if something unknown was following them. After her daughter is attacked by Oliver, she still does not get the clue that Oliver is not her son anymore. She still goes out of her way to try to reason with him, When Piki recognizes the unusual events happening, she immediately tells Maria that Oliver is evil, and she still does not react.
Sarah Wayne Callies’s performance is weak – she never really connected with her character. She also continuously makes poor choices throughout the film. The film also contains entirely too many jump scares, completely unnecessary for a film like this. Her husband, Michael is left in the dark most of the time and does not really have much to offer accept coming in from time to time to comfort his wife. The daughter’s (Sofia Rosinsky) performance is pretty good, she manages to sidestep the annoying little sister clichés and she is actually quite creepy in her last few scenes.
The Other Side of the Door is awful. The film tries to attempt to provide a message about pain and loss, but honestly the characters just do not seem sad enough. Nor are they very scared. They just seem annoyed and self involved. There is nothing new that is offered here, just a standard “the dead do not come back to life the same.” But based on the performances you cannot really tell the dead from the living.