The Other Side of the Door (2016) Movie Review

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Other Side of the Door (2016) Movie Review

The Other Side of the Door (2016) Movie Review

"The Other Side of the Door" is worth a peek.

A clear definition of Hinduism is hard to pin down. Hinduism is a culture, a philosophy and, of course, a religion. It's considered one of the world's great religions and one of the oldest. It has the third highest number of adherents worldwide (behind Christianity and Islam) and is the major religion of India, the world's second most populous country, where 80% of its 1.3 billion inhabitants are Hindu. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion whose many gods are interconnected by their legends. Hindus also believe in the reincarnation of the immortal soul after the death of the physical body. Digging deeper into Hinduism yields stories that have evolved over the centuries and beliefs that are difficult for most non-Hindus to truly understand. In short, Hinduism is a mystery to most of the world – especially to the western world. Perhaps that is why it makes a good basis for a ghost story like "The Other Side of the Door" (R, 1:36).

Michael and Maria (Jeremy Sisto and Sarah Wayne Callies) are Americans running a furniture business in India, which they decide to make their home when Maria discovers she's pregnant with the couple's first child. Five years later, they're enjoying life in Mumbai with their son, Oliver (Logan Creran), and younger daughter, Lucy (Sofia Rosinsky)… that is, until a tragic accident takes Oliver's life. Maria is inconsolable. As much she loves her husband and daughter, she's racked with guilt over her son's death and finds it nearly impossible to maintain her own will to live. Seeing Maria's pain, the family's Indian housekeeper, Piki (Suchitra Pillai-Malik), offers Maria a chance to get some closure and move past Oliver's death.

Piki tells Maria of an abandoned Hindu temple near Piki's childhood home in southern India. Piki says that if Maria spreads Oliver's ashes on the temple steps, goes into the temple and waits until after dark, Oliver's spirit will come to the temple and Maria can say her final goodbyes to her son through the door – as long as she doesn't open the door – no matter what. Yup, you guessed it. Maria, overcome by the longing to hold her son once again when she hears his voice, opens the door – an act which disrupts the balance between the living and the dead and prevents Oliver's soul from being reincarnated. Instead, Oliver's spirit, in its altered and transitory state, wreaks havoc on Maria's family, while an unhappy Hindu goddess and a tribe of spiritualists who communicate with the dead are intent on restoring order.

"The Other Side of the Door" is a (mostly) original and satisfying horror flick. You won't get much in the way of actual insight into the Hindu religion, but its beliefs provide an interesting foundation for the film's story. Rather than happening "just because", as in many horror movies, the scary stuff in this movie at least has an explanation. The flashback scene of the accident that killed Oliver is heartbreaking, the ending is creepy and the story in between keeps you wondering what's real, what's not and where the story is going. (I thought I had it figured out 10 minutes in. I was wrong.) Bringing it all together are Callies and Sisto. Both are movie and TV veterans who bring the necessary acting heft to this ghost story's plot points. Unfortunately, there are some cheap jump scares and the creepy sights and sounds seem recycled from almost every cinematic ghost story from "The Grudge" to "The Conjuring". This all leaves us with a movie whose frights aren't very fresh, but with a surprisingly solid story and style. "B+"

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