Right At Your Door is a claustrophobic and taut disaster thriller about exactly how you would react with split decisions in a crisis and how they can affect other people. It’s a thought-provoking scenario and although its full of melodrama, it steers itself towards a fantastic conclusion and requires several watches to pick up on all the hidden details.
The disasters faced
Dirty bombs, gas chambers, shoot to kill police officers and the potential of running out of duct tape!
Right At Your Door is a low budget indie film and almost all of it takes place in and around a single house yet it feels so much bigger than this. Brad and Lexi have moved into their new home and have still yet to unpack properly when a dirty bomb goes off downtown. Lexi, travelling to work, is caught up in it and Brad, with just his radio and car radio for unfolding news information goes searching for his wife. When he sees police shoot a civilian trying to run away from the situation he bails back home to follow the advice from the news and Alvaro, the neighbours’ gardener whose hidden inside their house – seal up your home.
After much deliberation, Brad finally seals up the front door when toxic ash starts to fall but hours later Lexi stumbles home coughing and desperate. Brad and Alvaro are sealed up safe inside, Lexi his wife is trapped outside contaminated. Would you let her in? Would you trust the news on the radio that seems completely out of touch with what’s going on? Would you trust the police after seen them shoot a panicked person earlier?
Right At Your Door asks you plenty of questions and the story could play out so many ways. As communication channels start to open up again and rumours of what other people are doing start to spread, Timmy a young child wanders through adding more weight to every decision. What will happen to them all?
Why is it worth watching
The films’ premise is interesting in that you make split-second decisions along with the character of Brad. One of the best decisions this film makes is to not have had the couple set up their TV yet and for them to have the radio on constantly as their own source of news. The news flicks constantly from a woman presenter down at the ground coughing, speaking of riots and conveying chaos to a calm studio veneered male presenter. It is running in the background of almost the entire film and along with hotline recordings, paints a fascinating critical eye of the media. A lot of what happens in the film is directly forced because of the media influence and reporting. It’s not directly called out but it left me thinking about their responsibility of dishing out expert advice with little to no knowledge of what is going on. It’s also a good point to note, that if help is on the way when it really might not be – is a carrot dangling activity causing more harm than good?
Brad and Lexi have a believable relationship. The morning coffee and work grind is standard and their characters are fleshed out nicely over the film. Alvaro is an interesting character as he chooses to leave the safety of the house to go back to his wife and in doing so goes against the experts. In a world currently rebelling against expert advice, although we never know his ultimate fate, that decision to rebel could well save his life. The trio handle their emotions perfectly and its a masterclass of acting, particularly from Lexi (Mary McCormack) who runs the gambit here. From smashing a window to cough crying to resignment to comforting Brad and her family, she pulls it all off.
Now the last thing I wanted to mention is huge spoiler territory so skip this paragraph if you’ve not seen the film yet. I wanted to mention the camera angles and editing of the film. Right At Your Door is a genius when it comes to perspective. For the first hour of the film, we see things from Brad’s point of view. Lexi is outside, contaminated and the threat. She is at your door and the problem. However, when Lexi returns after the red tag moment, the cameras are outside and we look into the house from her perspective. Brad is now the enemy and the threat right at your door. I didn’t notice it until a few watches in but its great foreshadowing.
As everything takes place in a house, you only get a few effective wide shots of smoke pouring up from the city skyline and some impressive chemical ash scenes. There is the excellent prosthetic arm shot though!
Whilst I’ve already covered Lexi and Brad and how real they feel, I wanted to make a shout out to the Kathy Reynolds the radio presenter on site with the dirty bomb. You never see her but you feel her contained terror throughout the movie. Timmy the kid is cute too.
‘Why don’t we talk about all the kids we never had?’ (Brad)
‘Oh we’d have only screwed them up anyway…’ (Lexi)
Three memorable moments
- Lexi’s first arrival back home again
- The anguish of Brad as he finally seals up the front door
- The red tag moment
The obligatory weird moment
There’s not really a weird moment in the film but I did notice in one sheet of plastic between our two characters has several holes in it! Also in the fumigation scene, the tent is flapping at the top left side with a big hole. There is one giant liberty though with sound design for this film to work. The house must have some of the thinnest walls know to man but strangely I didn’t question it at all during watching it.
The drinking game
There is a lot of pawing each other through the window. #ShotsForPaws?
I really enjoyed Right At Your Door as its got a different feel for a disaster movie. It makes you ask what would you do. It’s very emotionally draining if it grips you but then that’s the point. There are no big effects, this is more about the personal struggles of facing a massive disaster and it does the job admirably!
Rating – 4/5 Excellent
If you liked Right At Your Door then you may like…
- Buried – Ryan Reynolds stuck underground has a similar vibe to this
- It’s A Disaster – a similar setup but done as a comedy instead!
- The Land of Hope – Japanese drama about living life on the edge of Fukushima’s exclusion zone
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*This review was updated 01/07/19 to the new format.