Never Open the Door is a 2014 horror film directed by Vito Trabucco (Psycho a Go-Go; Bloody Bloody Bible Camp; Slices) from a screenplay co-written with producer Christopher Maltauro. The movie is an homage to the original Twilight Zone, Outer Limits and Alfred Hitchcock Presents series.
- Jessica Sonneborn – Psycho a Go-Go; One Night of Fear; House Across The Street
- Kristina Page – The Haunting of Alice D
- George Troester
- Deborah Venegas – Bloody Bloody Bible Camp
- Matt Aidan
- Mike Wood
- Steven Richards
Three happy couples retreat to a cozy secluded cabin in the woods to enjoy Thanksgiving. A badly wounded stranger appears at the door, and when they let him in, he throws up blood and collapses on the floor. As he dies, he points towards the lovers and croaks his final words: “Never open the door”.
The dumbfounded group of friends start to panic as one of their own inexplicably disappears. Doubt rises by the minute and mistrust soaks through the cabin. As strange men surround the cabin, escape becomes paramount. Who will open the door?
This short, yet sadly none-too-sharp indie horror can’t be faulted for ambition, however, the execution leaves a lot to be desired.
Bearing a certain similarity to the rather better Coherence from 2013, this is a time-looping, increasingly strange tale where a dinner party for old friends goes very wrong with the arrival of a dying man at the door. Pausing only to cough blood over one female guest, Tess (Jessica Sonneborn) and cough “never open the door”, this new arrival is the trigger for a series of supernatural events.
The guests find that attempting to call the police simply sees the calls re-routed to each other’s phones, and all the doors of their cabin in the woods are locked. Worse still, while Tess is upstairs cleaning up, she is also arriving outside by car. Clearly, one of them is a fake – but which? And the increasingly paranoid Luke (Mike Wood) is getting mysterious cell phone messages telling him that his pregnant wife has been cheating on him…
There’s an interesting idea at the heart of Never Open the Door – even if it is an idea already done more effectively in other films – but the execution here leaves a lot to be desired. For the first thirteen minutes, nothing really happens apart from this unlikely bunch of friends sniping at each other over the dinner table – and that’s a big chunk out of a 65 minute movie, especially when the actors are simply not very good.
Of course, iffy acting is often the curse of the low-budget movie, but when the piece is essentially a character study, these deficiencies are rather more noticeable. The characters are ill-defined and irritating anyway, and seeing the cast shout, scream and look confused while struggling to make their copious amounts of dialogue seem natural is somewhat disheartening. Director Vito Trabucco does them no favours either by lingering on awkward dialogue delivery when ruthless cutting is called for.
Never Open the Door has an obvious Twilight Zone influence (right down to the impressive opening titles), and it would probably be much more effective as a half-hour piece. As it is, this is a film that feels oddly padded and depressingly un-involving despite the relatively short running time.
David Flint, MOVIES and MANIA
“So, we have the ‘cabin in the woods’ format of a horror story, with a cast of repellent disposables and a burgeoning (but as yet unidentified) threat. However, whilst this may sound like something that’s been done a million times before, Never Open the Door manages to throw out some wonderful surprises and it’s a movie that is well worth investigating.” Ashley Lister, UK Horror Scene
Big Bear Lake, Big Bear Valley, San Bernardino National Forest, California