Right At Your Door is a film about bombs going off in down-town L.A, polluting the sky with deadly toxic dust for a several mile radius, and about a guy called Brad (Rory Cochrane) who finds himself at the edge of the affected area while his wife Lexi (Mary McCormack) is missing somewhere in the city. It’s quite a good concept, and I am sure for a lot of Americans the film will feel very close to home as the shots of a smoke rising over the metropolis are very reminiscent of September 11th, and the whole film is designed to tap into the post-9/11 hysteria: we all heard about the concept of dirty bombs – explosives that spread radioactive material – at great length and in great detail, despite the fact that the threat has never materialised and the fact that the weapon’s effectiveness is being exaggerated because it’s the sort of hideous concept that sells newspapers.
So anyway, Right At Your Door – the name is not very subtle – taps into this hysteria. This is a film designed to exploit fears about terrorism (though there is no mention of terrorism in the film) and to be fair, it does it well. What could easily have been a tacky made-for-tv movie is actually quite compelling drama, with enough twists to keep it interesting throughout, more or less. It’s well shot, well acted and doesn’t look cheap.
The film is designed to prey on people’s fears on a personal level – “omygod that could be me!” – but I find it all quite unrelatable myself: big American cities might as well be Neo-Tokyo to me in my sleepy little English town. And Americans are people from movies and people on TV and the sort of big noisy drama they have is fascinating but nothing I can personally relate to. With a few exceptions, I find it difficult to even relate to family households in films like this (though the married couple in this film are far more likeable – despite being called Brand and Lexi – than say, the abominable couple from ‘Paranormal Activity’). It’s not Right At My Door, my town is unlikely to get targeted, it’d be like Sauron ignoring Gondor and raining down Nazguls on The Shire just to be a dick. However, even though I am not really in the target demographic, I found the film enjoyable which I think says a lot. If you live in L.A or somewhere similar then the film would probably be even more effective.
For me, the film had a lot of similarities with zombie movies or post-apocalypse movies, again perhaps because these sorts of film are generally happening to big cities. My zombie apocalypse would definitely be of the ‘Shaun of the Dead’ variety. Though the drama is limited to L.A, and really limited to the claustrophobic quarantine of the house, it feels like someone on the radio is going to say “omygod the DEAD are getting up and EATING PEOPLE!” at any moment (all Americans say omygod apparently). The slow influx of news from scattered sources feels like the amazing ‘Pontypool’, and Brad seems to cope quite well with instructions to seal the doors and windows, fortunately he has about five miles of duct tape, a load of plastic sheeting and a handy Mexican. Again, I would be screwed with my drafty house and one roll of sellotape to my name. Maybe half a pack of clingfilm if I’m lucky. Plus I am terrible at DIY. It’d be easier just to wrap clingfilm and plastic bags over myself but I guess that brings it’s own problems. I am really unprepared for the inevitable apocalypse.
Speaking of being prepared, it seems to me that the best way to survive these things would be to buy a military-looking hazmat suit and gas mask, especially if you live in America. That may sound obvious but I have lost count of the number of times some poor defenceless sap in a t-shirt is bullied by an incomprehensible military guy in a hazmat suit, usually with a torch and a gun. Just get your own suit and at the first hint of apocalypse tag along with the guys that look like they know what the plan is. Get a walkie-talkie too and just say *ccccrk* “affirmative” *ccrrk* if anyone asks you anything.
Overall it’s a good film and worth watching, especially if you live in a place where it could be At Your Door, or if like me, you just like seeing apocalypse type films – I love apocalypses me. I found the main characters mostly sympathetic – although the handyman was probably the one I sympathised with most because he was the least frantic and noisy. And despite a part where it may have well had a caption saying “BAM! IRONY!” the film wraps up well. The director Chris Gorak made a really solid film here and is set to release ‘Darkest Hour’ this year about an alien invasion of Russia, my expectations are now pretty high.