The Door
 RATING (out of 5)

A film review by Mark Athitakis - Copyright © 2006

Bruce Wood’s debut full-length feature is an appealing, if somewhat clunky, high-concept psychological thriller. Kent (Bill Ferris) is despairing about his life after the end of a long relationship; to perk his spirits, his friend Ori (Ryan Martin) decides to introduce him to three friends of his, who happen to be not only lucid dreamers but actually share the same dreams. Kent, who’s never dreamed himself, is skeptical about this whole “dream” business — he’s skeptical about pretty much everything around Ori, actually — but he slowly becomes immersed in the lives of all three.

As thrillers go, The Door takes a while to get to the “thriller” part — Wood spends the first third of film establishing the backgrounds of the three dreamers: Jean (Katherine Wray), who’s desperate to escape a bad marriage; Ron (Chase Stoeger), an anxious fund manager; and Charlene (Karla Magnan), a recently minted doctor hunting for a job. It doesn’t help that Wood clutters the early scenes with a host of family members, friends, and other assorted characters who don’t contribute much to the plot. But once Kent meets all three, Wood’s script starts firing on all cylinders. Kent is something of a miracle worker for each of his new friends, helping each of them to start achieving their biggest (yup) dreams. Yet as Kent’s intentions get called into question and Ori emerges as increasingly sinister, svengali-like man, the film becomes an entertainingly dark meditation on how swallowed up we can be by our ambitions.

Wood has a background in fine arts and avant-garde filmmaking — he’s worked as a painter and studied filmmaking with Stan Brakhage — and he brings a bit of an abstract sensibility to The Door. Dream sequences use rich double exposures, process shots, and color filters that give those moments and appropriately disorienting feel. (And the mood’s neatly underscored by an energetic experimental jazz score.) The performances are sometimes stiff, as if the actors haven’t quite internalized the layers of thinking about sex, fear, love, money, and more that Wood’s crammed into this story. But given the complexity of the story, The Door is surprisingly cohesive and engaging.

Director: Bruce Wood
Producer: Bruce Wood
Screenwriter: Bruce Wood
Stars: Bill Ferris, Ryan Martin, Katherine Wray, 
Chase Stoeger, Karla Magnan
MPAA Rating: NR
Year of Release: 2005
Released on Video: 07/04/2006