Combustible Celluloid
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With: Josh Peck, Lina Esco, Wilson Bethel, Kyp Malone, Dugan O’Neal, Kathy Khanh, Julianne Collins, Aric Generette Floyd, Rory Anne Dahl, Kristina Lear, Bira Vanara, Bailee Cowperthwaite, Darius Levanté, David Hemphill
Written by: Chris White, Jeff Desom, Saman Kesh, Dugan O'Neal, Saman Kesh
Directed by: Jeff Desom, Saman Kesh, Dugan O'Neal, Saman Kesh
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 84
Date: 03/19/2021

Doors (2021)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

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By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Sometimes a bit inert, and intermittently frustrating, the sci-fi anthology movie Doors nonetheless has enough intriguing ideas and arresting visuals to make it worth seeing — and worth thinking about.

In the first segment, four high school students are serving detention, when something happens. Their teacher leaves the classroom and never returns, and their cell phones start blowing up. They investigate, and find a mysterious "door" that seems to be calling one of them, the non-binary Ash (Kathy Khanh Nguyen).

A couple of weeks later, Becky (Lina Esco) and Vince (Josh Peck) volunteer to become "Knockers," or people who explore the strange worlds beyond the doors. Their time inside reveals secret things about themselves. Finally, 101 days after the doors appeared, scientist Jamal (Kyp Malone) invites an old colleague to his remote cabin to show her a door that he has not only been studying, but with which he has also been communicating.

Doors is fairly cohesive for an anthology film, given that the three main stories take place in the same world, within the same situation, but at different times. The wraparound segments, and a coda, feature a podcaster called Martin Midnight, who snarkily comments on the events, although it becomes clear that the movie isn't really on board with him. Interestingly, sympathies here seem to lie with the misfits and outsiders, the ones who are more liable to try to connect and communicate than to blow things sky high.

The focus of the first segment focuses on Ash, who appears feminine, but who corrects a classmate with "I am not a her!" The door in this episode speaks directly to her. The second segment is notable for its eerie dream-logic, depicting the ever-shifting realities inside the doors that seem determined to test those that come inside.

The third segment is the least dynamic, but again seems to frown on violence and champion connection, although the final denouncement suggests another direction. Doors falters mainly when it cooks up its absurd sci-fi exposition, and when it focuses on the literal rather than the mystery, but fortunately, there's enough mystery to keep things interesting.

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