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The Independent Critic

Catherine Georges, Sarah Christine Smith, Daniel Booko, Ryan Doom
Doc Duhame
NR (Equiv. to R)
94 Mins.

 "The Open Door" Review 
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Angelica (Cathrine Georges) is a good girl, at least until she becomes the BFF of her school's queen bee, Staci (Sarah Christine Smith). Relishing in but modestly uncomfortable in her newly acquired popularity, Angelica is experiencing increasing amounts of pressure at school, at home and in her personal life as this new friendship leads to rebellious behaviors and defiant attitudes uncommon for the formerly high achieving, bookwormish young lady.

As everyone at school is reaching a fever pitch over the party coming up after the big game, a new pirate radio station in town that only broadcasts on full moon nights is also catching its share of the buzz. When Angelica gets grounded the night of the big game, Staci pulls no punches in trying to get her BFF to sneak out and, finally, when some of Staci's entourage find out that Staci is home alone they decide to stop by and pull what they believe to be an innocent prank. What they don't realize is that Staci, out of desperation, has spewed forth her earthly desires to the mysterious pirate radio station and, before the sun rises her desires will be unleashed.

Has Staci sold her soul to the devil?

Written and directed by Doc Duhame ("Mission Impossible III," "Live Free or Die Hard") in his writing and acting debut, "The Open Door" is an indie horror thriller of the highest degree, a film where its low-budget is masked by Duhame's involving script and grounded squarely upon the shoulders of its ensemble cast largely made of up-and-coming actors and actresses.

While I will confess that I preferred Cathrine Georges in her non-shrieky scenes, Georges works wonders as Angelica because she plays the young, virginal girl in a rather straightforward, non-histrionic fashion. As the film spirals into increasing unpredictability, it's captivating to watch Georges' descent into a dazzling blend of Molly Ringwald, Laurie Strode and Kathryn Merteuil.  Because Duhame avoids any cheap tricks, "The Open Door" keeps us guessing as to how all of this is going to unfold.

Without descending into stereotypes, Duhame manages to construct a story featuring characters who will seem awfully familiar to anyone who has survived the suburban nightmare of high school. Angelica and Staci are joined by Staci's right hand bitch (Jessica Anne Osekowsky, a couple narcissistic jocks (Ryan Doom and Daniel Booko) and Brad (Mike Dunay), who becomes the object of Angelica's affection.

One of the true joys, in a sadistic sort of way, of "The Open Door" is that Duhame refuses to spoon feed the audience exactly what's going on and why it all is happening. As Staci and her entourage arrive at Angelica's house, Angelica's desires start manifesting in quite literal and rather violent ways. Yet, it's never truly clear what's happening, why it's happening and who is truly behind it all even as the story unfolds. By trusting his audience to follow alone, Duhame elevates "The Open Door" above the usual horror tripe of spoon-fed thrills and chills into something far more unsettling and, most disturbingly, rather realistic it would seem.

Production values are solid throughout "The Open Door," with staging, cinematography from Gregory Hobson, make-up and the film's original music by Robert Irving all being stellar examples of indie filmmaking.

Winner of the Audience Choice Award at the LA Shriekfest, "The Open Door" is currently on the film festival circuit and should enjoy quite the lengthy life once it arrives on home video. For more information on "The Open Door," visit the film's website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic