Right At Your Door - Review
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Forearm shiver – an interview with Chris Gorak; Film School – tips on making an independent film with Chris Gorak; Feature length audio commentary with Chris Gorak.
IT TOOK a while but the issues posed by terrorism in a post 9/11 world are now one of the most fertile breeding grounds for Hollywood filmmakers.
Some have chosen to tackle the issues head-on (Paul Greengrass’ United 93 and Oliver Stone with World Trade Center), while others have opted to explore the wider issues such as its effect on society and the possibility of further attacks.
Writer-director Chris Gorack’s Right At Your Door is a tense thriller that’s designed as a reaction to the psychological limitations of America’s post 9/11 society.
“I felt that after 9/11, as a country we ran off to far-away places to fight an elusive ghost,” he explains. “Yet the harbouring and even training of the people who carried out the attacks were done within our borders – a concept that I think was, at the time, very hard for us, as a nation, to swallow.”
Right At Your Door takes this realisation a couple of steps further – what if further attacks were successful? And what if the ones you love were caught in the middle of the fallout?
After multiple dirty bombs are detonated in Los Angeles, spreading deadly toxic ash around the surrounding area, unemployed guitarist Brad (Rory Cochrane) must make a terrible decision.
His wife, Lexi (Mary McCormack) was on her way to work when the blasts went off and despite attempting to find her, he is now being told to seal himself indoors so that he won’t become polluted by the airborne toxins.
Together with an elderly handyman from next door, he reluctantly does as the authorities on the radio instruct but is then mortified when Lexi turns up – bloodied and possibly infected by the fallout.
Quarantining her outside, the two must wait for help to arrive, while confronting their own fears and paranoias about the situation and their relationship – should Brad have locked Lexi out? And what if the instructions from the authorities are wrong?
It’s a chilling scenario, realistically played that Gorack allows to unfold without the need for big special effects sequences.
When the bombs go off, viewers are only allowed to glimpse the carnage through Brad’s eyes, as he looks out over the LA skyline and the clouds of toxic gas that begin to appear.
They are then forced to endure the same mix of confusion and anxiety as he ventures into town to try and find his wife.
By the time he secures himself at home, the film has become an altogether more claustrophobic affair, as Brad comes to rely on his own instincts rather than believing the reports on the radio, and events begin to spiral beyond anyone’s comprehension or control.
Along the way, Lexi must confront the possibility of her own impending death (calling loved ones to wish them goodbye), while gung-ho cops are witnessed being heavy-handed and bio-suited soldiers conduct their own mysterious investigations.
Throughout, however, Gorack confronts man’s inhumanity towards man, as well as his or her overpowering instinct for survival. How much of an emphasis do you place on your own life above those of the ones you love?
Just as crucially, however, how much should we believe in what we’re being told in time of crisis? How much does the media know and how much is it being fed?
Right At Your Door works both as a chilling and fiercely compelling human drama, as well as a thought-provoking reminder of the ongoing terror threat. It has become all the more haunting in light of the recent alleged terror plots.
Gorack deserves the maximum praise for crafting such an intelligent and intense piece of cinema that tackles a difficult subject with the utmost respect – his film never loses its grip and never resorts to obvious or heavy-handed preaching, right down to its shocking conclusion.
Make sure you go and see it when the film comes knocking at your local multiplex.
Running time: 95 mins