Doors (CREDIT: Epic Pictures)

Starring: Josh Peck, Lina Esco, Wilson Bethel, Kyp Malone, Dugan O’Neal, Kathy Khanh, Julianne Collins, Aric Generette Floyd, Rory Anne Dahl, Kristina Lear, Bira Vanara, Bailee Cowperthwaite, Darius Levanté, David Hemphill

Directed by: Saman Kesh, Jeff Desom, Dugan O’Neal

Created by: Chris White

Running Time: 81 Minutes

Rating: Unrated (There’s some intense sci-fi that most 10-year-olds could probably handle)

Release Date: March 19, 2021 (Theaters)/March 23, 2021 (On Demand)/April 6, 2021 (DVD/Blu-ray)

There’s something kind of thrilling about watching a movie that’s an interconnected series of vignettes and not even realizing that fact until the very end. Or at least, I was thrilled while I had this experience during my viewing of Doors, as I was on the edge of my seat wondering how these disparate sets of characters would eventually come together into a single narrative. In my defense, the sci-fi subject matter lends itself to this possibility, as a bunch of probably-extraterrestrial so-called “doors” pop up all over the world and offer the promise of entry into different dimensions. Thus, the film’s scattered approach – in which sequences don’t end so much as stop – feels like a feature rather than a bug. Its underdog vibes are all over the place, but they’re buoyed to victory by an eagerness to explore. And that, my friends, is always going to grab my attention.

Fair warning: Doors features several generic B-roll shots accompanied by woo-woo voiceover, which would usually be a big ol’ Red Alert, warning us that we’re entering into SyFy original Z-grade territory. And while Doors‘ budget probably isn’t much higher than the latest Sharknado or MegaRocktoGatorKookaburra, that lack of cash actually results in an alluring surreal charm. Each segment has this same sense of resourcefulness. The visual effects rarely go beyond simple camera tricks, or undulating liquid-ish metal, or multiple Josh Pecks wearing different outfits. But the acting makes up for the lack of fireworks with bald emotionality. To paraphrase Troy Barnes, pretty much everyone’s whole brain is crying at some point. The last segment is just a videoconferencing call between two guys that manages to pull off some Lynchian end-of-the-world panache by sheer virtue of overwrought screams of agony.

So in conclusion, if you like a good Narnia-esque jumping-through-worlds setup and a generous dollop of student film energy, then you ought to give Doors a try. This is committed sci-fi that doesn’t mind getting silly in the name of knocking the screws in your cerebrum just a little bit loose.

Doors is Recommended If You Like: V/H/S, Evil flowers, The formal inventiveness of Unfriended

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Knockers