THE PALE DOOR (2020) Reviews and overview

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‘It was the perfect score. But Hell was their reward.’

The Pale Door is a 2020 American horror Western feature film about a gang of train robbers trapped in a ghost town inhabited by witches.

Directed by Aaron B. Koontz (Scare Package; Camera Obscura) from a screenplay co-written with Cameron Burns (Scare Package; Camera Obscura) and Keith Lansdale (Christmas with the Dead), the Paper Street Pictures-Title Media production stars Zachary Knighton, Noah Segan, Melora Walters and Devin Druid.


The Dalton gang finds shelter in a seemingly uninhabited ghost town after a train robbery goes south. Seeking help for their wounded leader, they are surprised to stumble upon a welcoming brothel in the town’s square. But the beautiful women who greet them are actually a coven of witches with very sinister plans for the unsuspecting outlaws – and the battle between good and evil is just beginning…


The Pale Door will be released in the US On-Demand on August 21, 2020. A Blu-ray and DVD release will follow on October 6, 2020.

Reviews [may contain spoilers]:

“There are, unfortunately, some elements that don’t seem to be quite thoroughly formed here. The gnarly stuff once it becomes Cowboys vs. Witches is fun, though there is a sense of running through too-familiar motions […] As the credits close on a somewhat predictable finale, it’s evident that some work on the script could have made this something really great. Even so, Koontz’ efforts along with that of his cast has at least given us something fun, and in this case, that’ll do.” 411 Mania

” …the film’s limitations in imagination and execution leave a lot of ground to be covered by a forgiving viewer’s eagerness to say, “close enough.” Without that willingness, the movie’s uncomplicated story and slender design have a harder time successfully immersing the audience in its horror-western fantasy.” Culture Crypt

” …there’s something totally refreshing about a film that mashes up genres without attempting to comment or deconstruct either one. Koontz’s film is an honest, sincere, and affectionate tribute to both genres, further proof that the world could use more horror westerns – especially when they’re as good as this.” Daily Dead

“It struggles to be as profoundly thematic as the whole “lawless mongrels pay for their lifestyles” scenario. However, there’s still enjoyment to experience as immorality begets retribution with gruesome results. Koontz might not “kick the door in” per se, but pulls up a chair and wins over his audience through tall tales of cowpoke signatures (that spur cheek-slice) and sinisterly seductive covens.” Flickering Myth

The Pale Door lurches uneasily from its tedious first half to its gorily gonzo, special effects-laden second, the latter unfortunately marred by haphazard staging and frenzied editing that reduce even its potentially scarier aspects to a chaotic blur. By the time one of the older members of the gang complains, “I’ve had enough of this strange shit,” viewers will be shaking their heads in agreement.” The Hollywood Reporter

The Pale Door has an interesting story and nearly non-stop action, but unfortunately, the ending can best be described as anti-climatic. After all of the build around the two brothers and the fact that witches aim to sacrifice young Jake, we get no real closure, and the fact that the older brother just rides away without fighting for his kin was disappointing and kind of weird.” Horror Fuel

The Pale Door is a fantastically fun and innovative weaving of western and horror fare. It’s ability to balance the effective emotional drama with its exciting horror and faithful western elements is an accomplishment. An accomplishment that is a blast to watch. It’s simultaneously an extreme bit of witchy terror, cowboy shoot ‘em up pulp and truly fun cinema.” iHorror

“Narratively, the film does well with uniting the stories of the witches and the cowboys, showing how both sides deal with betrayal and death. Definitely a lesser-seen subgenre, but once put together, the combination just makes so much sense. The outlaws represent crimes against social order, while the witches serve a scapegoat for crimes against humanity.” Killer Horror Critic

“For nitpickers, it’s true that the presence and influence of witches grants the writers a certain amount of latitude to play fast and loose with logic. Characters inevitably end up where the movie wants them to be when it wants them to be there. Nevertheless, I found it easy enough to suspend disbelief for the sake of a well-paced, entertaining narrative.” Modern Horrors

“On the western side, it looks the part, but Alex Cuervo’s anachronistically modern score completely kills the Old West mood. As a horror movie, it’s devoid of scares or suspense, and when the witches transform into their stake-burnt selves, the effect just looks silly. But chiefly, it all comes back to the film’s tone-deaf decision to ask us to root for a group of irredeemable men as they gun down the female victims of one of the darkest chapters of American history.” The Movie Waffler

“Not unexpectedly, Koontz and his collaborators depict the coven as one-dimensional, life-sucking, vampire-like villains (reflecting, as always, a deep-seated fear of female sexuality and procreativity).  By the time The Pale Door reaches its climactic, pre-credits moment, a bonding moment between brothers possibly seeing each other for the last time, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to care for their individual or collective fates.” Screen Anarchy

The Pale Door starts out nicely as a conventional western before gradually sliding into the Twilight Zone. And then just as you start to ask yourself why there would be a brothel in the literal middle of nowhere, all hell breaks loose. The result is a mix of jump scares, atmosphere and action scenes that keep the film moving along at a nice pace.” Voices from the Balcony

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Cast and characters:

Zachary Knighton … Duncan
Noah Segan … Truman
Melora Walters … Maria
Devin Druid … Jake
Stan Shaw … Lester
Natasha Bassett … Pearl
James Landry Hébert … Cotton Mather
Bill Sage … Dodd
Pat Healy … Wylie
Tina Parker … Brenda
Alexandra Harris … Etta
Darryl Cox … Barkeep
Peggy Schott … Opal
Mark Adam Goff … Outlaw
Jonny Mars … Vernon

Filming locations:

Guthrie, Oklahoma

Technical details:

96 minutes

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