by George Wolf
How much better would 2001 have been if there were helpful onscreen text explaining the motives of the monolith?
Use that bone as a weapon and you won’t starve.
None. The answer is none better.
A habit of over-explanation is just one of the weights pulling down Doors, a science fiction drama presented in three separate acts by three different writer/directors.
Jeff Desom fares best with the opening segment entitled “Lockdown.” As high schoolers in a classroom hear their locked-up cellphones buzzing, planes overhead and vaguely ominous announcements, some nice tension is built via mystery and subtlety.
And then both are gone.
A late night podcaster quickly sets the stage. Imposing, sentient “doors” have appeared around the world, and in the rush for answers, volunteers called (what else?) knockers are answering the invitation. The “Knockers” segment, from Saman Kesh, features Josh Peck and Lina Esco as a couple who find a greatly distorted reality awaits them on the other side.
Dugen O’Neal’s final segment, “Jamal,” carries a fine performance from Kyp Malone as a reclusive man successfully communicating with a door in secret. When an unexpected betrayal brings outsiders, the onscreen text brings mood – spoiling clarity to what the door requests.
Extended exposition via a podcaster is at least an organic device, but text? Since none of the characters can see these messages, they are only for our benefit as viewers, and land as the most inexplicable aspect of this entire cosmic trip.
This film starts with an intriguing setup to a decent sci-fi premise, but can never find resonant avenues for development. Some confidence in its audience, better performances, a more compelling score and crisper sound mix would be steps forward, but the most gaping hole is the absence of one clear storytelling vision.
Without it, Doors is an awkward anthology in search of an anchor, as well as a satisfying reward for opening it.