The bossy title is a horror movie staple, dating back from the likes of Don’t Look Now, Don’t Go Near the Park and Don’t Go in the Woods, to the more recent Don’t Breathe and Don’t Knock Twice. Adding to the pantheon with a relatively rare but very definitive ‘never!’ is Never Open the Door.
The door in question leads to that other horror staple, the cabin in the woods. But while Vito Trabucco’s feature is one of the retro variety, it shies away from the ‘80s style slasher movie one might have expected from such a title. Presented entirely in black and white, Never Open the Door is more a spooky Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents homage than Cabin in the Woods/Evil Dead take-off. Opening with a beautifully realised credits sequence, there’s an air of authenticity that fooled this reviewer into thinking he was watching a genuine relic from the ‘60s for a good couple of minutes…
That is, until the credits fade away and we’re introduced to our main cast, bickering around a dinner table. The black and white visuals make the film stand out and look slightly prettier than it otherwise would, but there’s no hiding the wooden acting of amateurs, dodgy scriptwriting (‘what?! I like cranberry sauce!’) and wobbly camerawork which is all very specific to our age of DIY filmmaking. Likewise, the score (not crap American rock or metal, but still bad) and action are far below the standards of ‘good’ and will put off many. A black and white film is a hard sell at the best of times, let alone when combined with dodgy Straight-To-Video level filmmaking.
Still, Never Open the Door is never worse than in its dinner table act, and improves markedly once a mysterious stranger is introduced and the group turns on itself, tying each other up and visiting violence upon one another amidst the chaos. The film will do very little to win over non-fans of low-budget horror filmmaking, but Never Open the Door is undeniably ambitious, and a charming throwback to a less represented era in the genre. Such Artist-ry (get it, because black and white) is to be respected, even when the film around it doesn’t quite manage to pull it off… and at a mere 64 minutes, it’s hardly worth getting into a tizz about.
Never? Well, never say never. This one is worth a look, at least.
NEVER OPEN THE DOOR / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: VITO TRABUCCO / SCREENPLAY: VITO TRABUCCO, CHRISTOPHER MALTAURO / STARRING: JESSICA SONNEBORN, DEBORAH VENEGAS, KRISTINA PAGE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW