You know the great thing about being unemployed is? Watching movies. Not just the biggies that everyone goes to see. But the small, independent movies that I otherwise wouldn’t waste time watching if I had a job/college/women demanding my attention. Indeed, I would probably have never seen “Right at Your Door” if I’d had any combination of the three (preferably the third one of course), but I figured why not.

You know the bad thing about being unemployed is? Watching movies like “Right at Your Door” and knowing that those are 90 minutes you will never get back…

Okay, so “Right at Your Door” isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen (“End of Violence” still holds that prize) but it certainly wasn’t very good. In fact I wouldn’t include good in there, it was passable. Sort of. You see I rented this movie because the premise sounded incredibly intriguing.

“Right at Your Door” is a small independent film distributed by Lionsgate publishers and is about a dirty bomb that has been detonated in Los Angeles, and a husband that seals the house as recommended by Homeland Security (by using Cling film and duct tape, which is just about as effective as the “duck and cover” defense against Nuclear Bombs in the 50’s)  but unfortunately his wife is still outside. Does he risk bringing his wife in and possibly infecting himself? Or does he leave her to die outside? It’s an intriguing idea isn’t it?

Unfortunately “Right at Your Door” completely squanders this idea by horrifically bad writing, characters, actors and basically anything that didn’t have to do with the cinematography. In fact the only reason I watched this movie through to the end was because the premise was so damn intriguing. I usually avoid giving away the plot in my reviews, but really I don’t think anyone really needs to put themselves through this movie unless you have 90 minutes of life you don’t mind losing. So here it goes, the Cliffnotes of “Right at Your Door”. You can thank me later.

It’s lovely day in California, the sun is rising illuminating the hovering smog cloud. A man gets up and fixes his wife a fresh Cappuccino, complete with that fuzzy looking sugar/milk concoction that goes with it, and runs her shower. He tries to get a little action going but she has to go to work. He kisses her goodbye and –

BAM

The credits roll.

I HATE it when movies do this. You know, if your going to give me credits after you’ve already shown me the first five minutes of the movie, at least do it gradually. Have them fade into the shot, or put them in the background, don’t set us up with the characters and then cut out to an incredibly annoying credit rolling sequence. But it’s been a long time since I’ve seen an opening sequence this annoying. The music sounds like a cat scratching a chalkboard while standing on top of the keys of an out of tune piano. The names and titles eventually line up to feature what looks to be a street map, presumably of the bomb site, which is weird since we never actually see any of the explosions or even go anywhere near downtown Los Angeles.

Cut back to the guy brushing his teeth, and he hears the emergency alert buzzing from his radio and as the announcer comes on the main character hears what would make any of us freak out, an explosion has ripped through downtown Los Angeles. This part of movie really shines, in fact I think the cast of the radio station used in this movie were the best actors of the entire movie.  The announcers voice is laced with the same fear and confusion that I remember hearing from the real life commentators during 9-11. A woman reporter who occasionally calls in and tells the radio station (and thus the audience) about the situation at the actual bomb sites does a spectacular job making the audience feel as if we’re there at the blast zone. In fact she might do too good a job, I found myself straining to hear her descriptions of the explosions, while the incredibly annoying husband desperately tries to call his wife who was heading into downtown LA.

Now, at first this is pretty reasonable. I think I would probably act the same way if something similar happened. But then it just gets stupid. So after nearly a half hour of panic stricken attempts to reach his wife he lets the neighbors gardener and proceeds to seal the house. Then his wife finally shows up, having fought her way through the blast zone and run who knows how many miles to get back to the house. Now, what happens next should seem simple right? Let the poor woman in, I mean this guy was desperate to find his wife this should be a simple decision.

No…he doesn’t want to let her in. You see the news has now released information that the victims in the blastzone are now highly infectious, spreading the disease like the plague rats of old. Now actually, thinking logically, it makes sense to keep her locked out with this information now available. But you see you can’t build up this man as a character who will sacrifice everything for his wife and then when he finally finds her pulls a complete 180 and locks her out. If this happened more organically, maybe I could believe it, if he seen other survivors wandering by with their lungs hanging out of the lips then sure I could see not wanting to let them in. But he has only the radio’s word on that, and his crying and pleading wife is inches away from him. That is NOT consistent character development. That’s borderline schizophrenia.

But the husband isn’t the only character to do this. After pleading for her husband to let her in for at least several days, she pulls the same stunt and runs off with some stranger to go see if they can get supplies from a Navy base where a ship has offloaded supplies. Where this stranger came from is still a huge mystery for me, there is some dialog about him being a friend from work but that doesn’t explain anything. Seriously, he shows up for about 3 minutes and then he’s never seen again. And the Wife, whose been wanting inside the house this entire time, runs off with this stranger on the insane notion that she can get medicine from a navy base in the middle of a crisis.

Another big problem with this movie is the constant use of fade to black transitions. They use this to show that time has passed. Gee, thanks movie. Never would have guessed. There are plenty of other ways to show the passage of time without having to constantly interrupt the flow of the movie, and pulls the audience out of the movie. And in a movie where emotion and tension are going to be paramount, giving us small breaks in the form of 10-15 second blackouts is NOT a good idea.

So anyway, the wife finally arrives back home and immediately starts bitching that they wouldn’t give her medicine. “That’s not help! That’s not help!” she cries.

You know what lady? There’s almost 4 million people living in LA, they can’t just be handing out meds to every one who wants them. They need to prioritize. By the end of the movie I was hoping that they’d all end up dead.

And guess what!? They do!

In a twist that actually makes sense, at least compared to the rest of the movie, the husband’s act of sealing himself inside the house actually caused the virus to grow faster and mutate to become more deadly. You see without proper ventilation it grew hot and damp, a perfect breeding ground for a disease. Finally, the movie almost redeems itself with a plot twist that finally makes some sense.

And then they put a fumigation tent over the house and gas him like a termite.

No really, I wish I was making that up! They pump the house full of chemicals and he dies. Really?

At this point the movie has made it pretty clear that they don’t trust the government, constantly making the government out to the be bad buy for the entire movie despite taking perfectly legitimate courses of action in the face of a biological attack. Then, as if to finally convince us they’re evil, they gas the main character. Now that doesn’t even make sense from any point of view.

What was the point? If anything the government would want to study this new strain of virus, and he’d be invaluable as Patient Zero (first diagnosed case) to test new drugs on to counteract the effect.

But really that was what the whole movie left me feeling.

What was the point?

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Written by John Stevenson

I'm a freelance writer based out of Seattle, Washington.

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