THE DEVIN'S ADVOCATE: DISCOVERING THE SADIST AT DANTE'S INFERNOApril 15, 2008
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RUNNING TIME: 96 min.
• “Forearm Shiver” – Interview with Chris Gorak
• “Film School” – Tips on Making an Independent Film
• Alternate Script EndingsThe Pitch
Terrorism takes a trip out West.
Mary McCormack, Rory Cochrane, Tony Perez, Scotty Noyd, Jr.
It starts as just another day for Brad (Cochrane) and Lexi (McCormack). Just as soon as Lexi leaves for work, a number of explosions rock Los Angeles. Unable to reach her by phone, Brad sets out to find her. With reports that the bombs were dirty, the police shut down all the roads leading to downtown. Brad returns home to wait for his wife. He arrives to find his neighbor’s handyman (Perez) inside. With the handyman’s help, Brad seals off the house to keep the toxic ash from entering. While the two men sit inside their bubble, Lexi tries to find her way home, like the voices of Michael J. Fox, Sally Field, and Don Ameche before her.
“I wish I was Jeremy Davies. I wish I was Jeremy Davies.”
“They don’t make ‘em like they used to” is a phrase that gets tossed around a fair amount, usually when someone gets misty-eyed thinking about the classics or epics of yesteryear. You don’t often hear people pining for films that are merely serviceable. Films made by people who know what they’re doing and put forth their best effort. The results may not be spectacular, but when the end credits roll, you can’t help but nod your head in appreciation.
Right at Your Door is a modest film. It boils down to two people in love dealing with something that threatens to tear them apart. It could be something like a major illness or the loss of a child. In this case, it’s a dirty bomb attack. Writer/director Chris Gorak doesn’t try to make any huge statements about terrorism or the state of the world. He doesn’t try to put us in the middle of the action. All we see of the explosions are a couple of skylines obscured by plumes of smoke. Details are learned through radio broadcasts and word-of-mouth. There’s nothing to distract from the heart of the story, Brad and Lexi, which puts a lot of weight on the actors. Luckily for Gorak, he found a pair capable of carrying it.
Every house should have a face in the wall.
Rory Cochrane is in just about every scene and anchors the film well. The role could have been played broadly and been an emotional rollercoaster (peaks and valleys), but Cochrane keeps it on an even keel. Brad spends the film thinking about everyone except himself and that unselfishness carries over into Cochrane’s performance. Mary McCormack balances “it’s not fair” rage and helpless acceptance. Tony Perez’s character is basically just a way to keep Brad and Lexi apart, but he manages to make the handyman feel like more of a human being than a plot device. Though, come to think of it, the ending adds a little bit of a “I wonder…” to the character and his ultimate fate.
Despite not having a lot of different ways to end the film, Gorak manages to both surprise and satisfy. The possibility of a Spielberg ending hung over the film like the toxic ash over the city, but love doesn’t conquer all in Right at Your Door. The ending is appropriately pessimistic, leaving only the tiniest glimmer of hope. When you factor in the loose end involving Alvaro, even that glimmer disappears.
Right at Your Door is one of those movies you stop and watch one night when there’s nothing else on TV, or the movie you take a chance on and rent when nothing else catches your eye. Unlike some of the other films of this ilk, you won’t regret watching it.
Chris Gorak is all over the special features. The tag team strategy is employed for the commentary with David Hughes from Empire Magazine sitting in with Gorak. Gorak flies solo for a pair of featurettes. “Forearm Shiver” has Gorak talking in-depth about the film and its production, while in “Film School”, he rattles off tips on how to make an independent film, using examples from his experience on Right at Your Door. Neither the commentary or the featurettes were terribly interesting, but some may find them informative. More interesting are the two alternate endings. They’re presented in script form and vary slightly from the one included in the film. Finally, it wouldn’t be a Lionsgate DVD without a collection of trailers. This time we’re treated to Rambo, The Eye, Saw IV, Trade, Control Room, and Shattered.
“The bubble worked for Travolta. It’ll work for me.”
8.2 out of 10