Review: Never Open the Door (2014)
Vito Trabucco's Never Open the Door (2014) combines the visual aesthetic of classic Twilight Zone episodes with the psychological grotesqueries of films such as Roman Polanski's Repulsion and David Cronenberg's Shivers. The film, available now on Amazon Prime and on Blu-Ray/DVD from Maltauro Entertainment, tells the story of three couples who spend a terrifying evening in a cabin in the woods. While this plot set-up may sound a bit too traditional, Trabucco's black-and-white descent into sci-fi madness has a lot of strange and enjoyable surprises up its sleeve.
The handsome-looking group has rented a vacation home--as expected, out in the middle of nowhere--to enjoy a pleasant Thanksgiving dinner and to catch up with each other. Though the script, penned by Trabucco and Christopher Maltauro, meanders frequently, the actors all have an easy rapport with one another and the dialogue flows freely. But when a frightening old man (Steven Richards) knocks on the front door and is allowed entry into the home, Never Open the Door begins its morbidly bizarre trip. One of the characters, Tess (Jessica Sonneborn), becomes infected with some kind of blood-borne pathogen and what proceeds is an entertaining mash-up of doppelgangers, psychosexual hallucinations, paranoia, and murder.
While Never Open the Door suffers from a few problems--most notably, some unnatural dialogue and some awkward interactions among the characters--the film features truly frightening sequences and imagery. Early on, when Tess begins to have horrifying hallucinations, the movie jolts the audience with images of sharp teeth, eerily long fingernails, and bloody knives. Later, a kill sequence inside a running shower stall has a raw feel that is both gritty and disturbing. Near the end of the picture, another kill scene brings back those gruesome fingernails to incredible effect (by far, the stand-out moment in the film and worth a watch just for this scene alone). Maggie Dillon and George Troester, the special effects designers on the film, should be commended for working within a small budget and still having the talent to craft startling and memorable scenes of bloodshed.
I don't profess to understand the entire plot of Never Open the Door (near the climax of the film, some "men in black" appear ominously outside the cabin and a mysterious time-loop occurs throughout), but I'm not sure I'm supposed to. The unexplained occurrences throughout the story may very well be representative of some supernatural force that Trabucco and his team intentionally leave ambiguous. At 64 minutes, the film moves quickly, perfect for late-night viewing; Joe Provenzano's cinematography works impressively with the stark black-and-white palette, while the other actors (in particular Deborah Venegas as Maria and Kristina Page as Angel) embrace their roles and tackle the weirdness of the picture with dedication.
Vito Trabucco's Never Open the Door is available here. It is an entertaining fusion of horror and science-fiction from multiple rising talents in the genre.