Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Right at Your Door (2006)

Over the week-end I happen to see "Right at Your Door" and since all eyes are on Washington DC for the inauguration of our next president I thought why not try some real horror. When I mean "real" horror I mean horror that can occur in our lifetime. While growing up it was all about the bomb. Movies like "The Day after", and "On the Beach" were films that showed us alternate futures for mankind. Now in the 21st century it's all about terrorism, and the so-called threat from "dirty" bombs, and biological weapons. The movie "Right at your Door" brings that horror to the screen, and shows us a horrible "what if" scenario.

The movie "Right at Your Door" was written and directed by Chris Gorak. Gorak does some interesting things here in the film, and the performances by both Mary McCormack, and Rory Cochrane are very convincing. The jest of the story is this: "A dirty bomb goes off in Los Angeles, jamming freeways and spreading a toxic cloud". Cochrane's character is stuck at home, and worries about his wife Lexi (McCormack) who has gone to work near where the bombs have exploded. The next hour and 36 minutes is spent on how both McCormack and Cochrane's characters both react to their plight. The cinematography is good, and the editing is very effective. Essentially were trapped with them in their house while all around them bad things are happening. Of course the characters reveal who they are through their actions, and the problem I had was that I didn't like our main character Brad (Rory Cochrane). Maybe this could be why I found it hard to listen to him or even justify his actions. In the end we find out his action have damned him, and maybe that is what the director wanted, but the end has it's own problems.

I'm told that this movie premiered in Sundance and won an award for best cinematography. It does have that going for it, and I've read that the film was shot in Super-16 so that feel as though it were a documentary is there, but make no mistake this is a drama. The film has a kind of "Blair Witch" feel. Maybe it's the cinema verti shots in the film that remind me of "Blair Witch", but it does strike a vibe that is familiar.

What I'm not happy about is the ending. I get mixed feelings. I don't know whether Chris Gorak is unable to decide whether government officials are hopeless incompetents like that what we saw in Hurricane Katrina, or evil fascists from a New World Order conspiracy. This detracts from the core of the story, which is about two people facing a horrifying event. I felt that the end was there to shock me, and nothing else. Also there is a lot of facts in the movie that Gorak gets wrong. Such as a biological weapon would not be used in an explosive since in an explosion the biological weapon would be destroyed. A "dirty bomb" which the news announcers in the film continually mention would be more effective in an explosion. But in the film we are never given enough info to determine what type of attack it is or was. At he end we hear that many structures are contaminated with a toxin, but the outside area and those exposed to the flying ash seem to have a chance and will survive. If you think about it after the film you begin to question the films validity. Maybe the script was rewritten and in several drafts it was a "dirty bomb", and in others it was a toxin, and eventually the two were combined. True in an event such as this facts would be scarce, but the two facts here contradict each other, and in the end you begin to question certain things in the film.

All in all the facts shouldn't hinder your enjoyment of the film. The dialogue is interesting, and the circumstances are horrifying. What this movie is good at is making you think about how YOU would react in the same circumstances. For that I give the movie a lot of credit. It's the end that will make you think, and maybe take you out of the scenario. Maybe instead of trying to "shock" us in the end the director should have given us a more plausible and intimate ending for its characters and for its audience. It's a minor pick, and something that can be overlooked, but like I said it detracts from the ending because when you come right down to it the film is about the characters response to each other and themselves . The horror is how WE as human beings deal with such unimagined terror. That in the end would have made this film a much more interesting and powerful film.

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