Doors is a 2021 science-fiction thriller about mysterious doors suddenly appearing and three different stories revolving around the phenomenon. It is directed by Saman Kesh, Jeff Desom, and Dugan O’ Neal. While Chris White, Ed Hobbs, Saman Kesh, Jeff Desom, and Dugan O’Neal have all co-written the screenplay. It’s an anthology film, and like other anthology films, this one also has many shared credits for directing and writing. Lina Esco stars as Becky. Josh Peck is playing Vince while Kyp Malone plays Jamal in the film. Wilson Bethel plays Ricky, and Julianne Collins plays Lizzie. Jordan Rock stars as Wiz, David Hemphill as Martin Midnight, and Aric Floyd as Jake. Finally, Darius Levanté plays Alan, and Rory Ann Dahl stars as Rory in the film. It hit theatres on March 19, 2021, to generally mixed reviews. Its concept has potential, but the film barely lives up to it.
The film has been getting praise for its interesting concept and visuals. But for most of the part, the critical reception has been negative or mixed. It’s a sci-fi anthology film about 3 stories taking place in the same world and around the same phenomena. It’s a low-budget feature with a cast containing not-so-familiar faces. Josh Peck from Nickelodeon’s Drake and Josh might be the most familiar to many. The film has a brisk and lean runtime of 81 minutes. So what’s the deal with the film? What does it get right, and where does it go wrong? Without further ado, let’s get into the details. Tread carefully! Spoilers Incoming!
Doors — The Premise
The premise revolves around 4 high school students who are serving their time in detention. When their teacher leaves the detention room and does not return, they find their phones start getting blown up. When they go out to investigate, they find a mysterious “door.” The door, as it happens, calls on to one of the students, Ash (Kathy Khanh Nguyen). Few weeks have passed since the start of the phenomenon of doors appearing all over the world. Becky (Lina Esco) and Vince (Josh Peck) become “Knockers” — a term for people who volunteer to enter through the doors. They explore the bizarre worlds beyond these cosmic doors. Becky and Vince’s expedition beyond a door reveals more secrets about themselves than about the world they explore.
The third segment is set when 101 days have passed since the phenomena. We follow a scientist, Jamal (played by Kyp Malone), who calls up a former colleague. He invites his colleague to show her how he has been studying a door and communicating with it. The three stories are separate but not entirely alien to each other — as is the usual case with anthology films. It’s fairly connected in that all of the stories are based in the same world. However, the stories are set at different points in time in this same world. The stories also have a commonality in the core conflict they all share. It has been praised for its intriguing premise and striking visuals. It has some great cinematography and visuals for a low-budget feature.
The First and Second Segment
Earth is blotted by mysterious cosmic doors that conjure up out of nowhere. These mysterious doors open to bizarre, surreal, and strange worlds. This unexplainable phenomenon rattles some, scares others, but mostly intrigues everyone. The three different anthological segments tell different stories of characters contending with this same phenomenon. We see the first story set at the beginning of this phenomenon. The first segment is called “Lockdown.” Jeff Desom has directed it while Saman Kesh has written it. This segment follows what happened when these alien doors first appeared.
“Lockdown” tells the story through the perspective of 4 students that are facing detention at school. They first become suspicious of something happening when the teacher goes outside and never returns. They go outside and eventually find out about the doors. There’s also a subplot of one of the students being called by one of the doors.
The second segment follows Becky and Vince. It has been a while since the doors first appeared. Having no explanation or solution to this problem, the government decides to probe into these doors. Some people are intrigued and thrilled at the prospect of these doors and what lies beyond them. They want to volunteer to go inside and explore the unknown. Becky, Vince, and Ricky are among these volunteers. The government has enlisted the volunteers to take on journeys inside the doors to learn more about them. These volunteers are called Knockers — the title of this segment. When the three knockers enter one of the doors, they contend with parallel realities. Their secrets get unraveled as the toll on their psyches increases due to the psychological effects the venture inflicted. Saman Kesh has directed this segment and co-written it with Ed Hobbs.
The Third Segment — Communion With the Doors
The third and final segment takes place after 101 days since the alien doors first appeared. It is titled “Lamaj.” Dugan O’Neal has directed the segment and co-written it with Saman Kesh. It follows the brilliant scientist Jamal (played by Kyp Malone). He’s a hermit, living in isolation while conducting experiments with the doors. He invites one of his former colleagues to showcase the developments he’s made so far. Jamal shows his colleague how he’s been experimenting relentlessly with a door. He also reveals a breakthrough he has made with the alien door. The breakthrough is that he can communicate with the door — something nobody has achieved so far. The scientists then try and find out what these doors entail and want. This is the last segment in the anthology.
Unique Ideas, Intriguing Premise, and Great Potential
Doors have some unique and Intriguing ideas with great potential. The concept of alien doors appearing out of nowhere with no explanation or apparent cause makes for good sci-fi. Nobody on Earth knows why the doors appear and what these doors entail. While some get consumed by the intrigue of these doors, others remain cautious. Those intrigued by the doors volunteer to venture into the unknown and mysterious worlds they lead to. Those who don’t embark on such missions try and make sense out of this surreal event. With such a premise, the story does seem great. There is plenty of striking and beautiful imagery to boot as well — and it complements the stories. Apart from that, there are some interesting ideas in the second and third segments. But with all these promising aspects, the film fails to live up to its potential.
Final Verdict — Failing to Live Up to the Potential
I think that Doors doesn’t benefit from being an anthology film. It would have been much better as a TV show instead. It’s not a conventional anthology film in that it doesn’t have the different stories completely dejected from each other. Each story in this film revolves around and contends with the same premise — the doors. The film could’ve done away with the anthology and instead become a single, all-encompassing story. The first segment serves as the introduction and doesn’t need to be longer. It could be shortened to a minimum duration that’s appropriate for the necessary exposition. And it’s not like the three stories are wildly apart from each other. They are set at different points of time but not too distant from each other. This is also a reason why the anthology spiel doesn’t work or make sense for me.
The acting is also rather bland, and the characters are not fleshed out properly at all. This isn’t easy in an anthology film, but again, this didn’t be one. The conflict and the ideas all concern the same premise and could have had more connection. That way, we could better understand the doors, and the characters would have gotten proper development. The decision to go the anthological route also results in the film not having a proper conclusion. The separate segments, despite sharing a common thread, do not quite come together at the end.
My review for Doors (2021) is 2 out of 5.
Here’s the trailer to the film;