Based on the novel that shares its name, The Door was originally penned by author Akif Pirinçci. Often referred to as the Stephen King of Germany, Pirinçci has a knack for fantastical realism and it’s a motif that runs cohesively throughout his work (which is how he managed to coin the aforementioned nickname) and The Door serves great justice to this motif and his mastery of it.
The film follows David, a man whose life spirals out of control after the death of his daughter. A failed suicide attempt leads him to a door that takes him five years into the past, enabling him to prevent the death of his daughter and live the life that could have been. David soon realises that he is not the only user of the door and must protect his identity and the family he was never meant to have.
If comparisons had to be made The Door would be comparable to one of the more darker episodes of TV’s Doctor Who or The Twilight Zone or dark adult fairytale-esque films like The Orphanage and Argento’s nightmarish fairytale Suspiria. It even calls for comparisons to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because of its conspiracy underbelly but here there is an even more bizarre twist of events.
Despite the numerous comparisons there is a very big difference in the way The Door manages its fairytale roots. Its use of realism in conjunction with the darkly fantastical makes the whole thing seem more believable and more accessible. Fantasy tales transport their audience to another world where they don’t have to worry – here it’s set in the real world and these fantastical elements just happen to exist which can, under the right circumstances, be quite unnerving.
These elements are also apparent in the film’s style. As well as looking (rather ironically) polished and clean, the director also utilises the style of ‘shaky cam’ which then gives it that added realism. Without these techniques, working alongside the plot, it would not have been such a great success.
Even with the brilliance of these aspects the film would not have been as successful as it is were it not for the central performance by Mads Mikkelsen (who you might recognise as the villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale), who gives the performance of a lifetime. There’s something sinisterly alluring about him and the way he awkwardly, yet comfortably, performs on screen. Bizarrely enough, his performance might have been rendered utterly useless if it were not for the atmospheric tension that is utilised throughout.
Every single aspect draws on each other – if one of these elements was a failure the whole film would collapse in on itself. The twists and turns that litter the film may well turn out to be The Door‘s Achilles’ heel because they sometimes make the film feel a little too apprehensive about letting on which direction it is heading in which may result in some viewers switching off.
The film relentlessly tries to propose philosophical questions whilst actively trying to engage its audience. The Door is not a film for those wanting a undemanding film but, for those who like a deftly handled mystery/fantasy/thriller filled to the brim with suspense and excitement, this is a must see.
Best performance: Mikkelsen as David.
Watch this if you liked: The Twilight Zone, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Cameo: Felidae, a feline protagonist from Pirinçci’s best-known work of the same name, appears in a scene by the swimming pool.