Set in 1960s Budapest, a wealthy female author Magda (Martina Gedek) and her intellectual husband move into an opulent home and recruit their neighbour's maid Emerenc (Helen Mirren). Her domineering presence and secretive nature captures Magda’s imagination and has an indelible effect on their lives. The Door is misleading on every front. You see Oscar-Winning pedigree in Helen Mirren, learn that it's a period film about 60s Budapest and the hangover from World War 2 and you'd be right to think that you've got an interesting, thought-provoking serious drama on your hands - while the question of what's behind "The Door" percolates and incites suspense. Instead what’s presented is one of the most baffling and simply awful cinematic failures that I’ve ever had to endure.
The filmmaker's/production house made the idiotic decision to overdub all of the actors (except Mirren) with English voice actors. The result of which is distracting out of sink voices from their actors lip movements and unintentional but unavoidable injection of parody into every scene.
Mirren's performance is essentially her character sweeping while dispensing her personal philosophy, didactically monologuing the entire plight of her character in long exposition or random acts of strange and confusing behaviour – like beating a dog with a spoon or throwing a handkerchief over her face.
István Szabó’s direction is deranged. The staging of each scene fluctuates between static and clumsily framed – so that it feels like a bad soap-opera, to insane out of place close-ups and random sketch comedy slo-mo. The direction for the performers was absent. Each new face feels like a puppet in 60s Hungarian garb.
What’s behind The Door? Nothing worth concealing. What’s left? Nothing of value. The Door is instantly and infamously bad. Only cinemagoers who’ve enjoyed the cringe-worthy cine-sadism of watching train wrecks like Tommy Wiseau’s The Room and Plan 9 from Outer Space could and should embrace this turd.
Directed by: István Szabó
Co-Written by: István Szabó and Andrea Vészits from the novel by Magda Szabó
Starring: Helen Mirren, Martina Gedeck, Károly Eperjes, Gábor Koncz, Enikö Börcsök, Mari Nagy
The Door was released in Australia on the 19th of July
Blake Howard is a writer, a podcaster, the editor-in-chief & co-founder of Australian film blog Graffiti With Punctuation. Beginning his criticism APPRENTICESHIP as co-host of That Movie Show 2UE, Blake is now a member of the prestigious Online Film Critic Society, sways the Tomato Meter with Rotten Tomatoes approved reviews. See his articulated words and shrieks (mostly) here at Graffitiwithpunctuation.com and with DarkHorizons.com & 2SER Sydney weekly on Gaggle of Geeks.