Science fiction is a genre that allows just about anything to be possible. It deals in both high-brow and low-brow concepts, and the range of methods in telling these stories is about as vast as the stories themselves. In Doors, we see a trio of directors attempting to tell multiple stories surrounding a singular event, and to convey different aspects of this event to the audience.
Directed by Jeff Desom, Saman Kesh, and Dugan O’Neal, Doors takes an interesting concept and maneuvers it in some challenging directions—some work better than others. The general premise is that one day, out of nowhere, hundreds of alien portals appear all over the Earth. We have no idea where these doors come from or why, so naturally, the next step is to begin investigating. Some people are sent through the doors, never to return. Others are sent through and come back, but are driven insane by the experience. And still others are able to begin a thoughtful dialogue with this new species.
The film is presented anthology-style, with individual, unconnected chapters telling different parts of the story, one after another (think a more disrupted version of The Signal, but combined with ideas found in Annihilation and The Arrival). It’s an interesting approach, both as a storytelling method and also as a way of covering a lot of ground in a minimalistic way.
The film opens with a segment entitled “Lockdown,” in which a group of students serving detention find themselves locked down in the school building when the doors begin to appear. After a bit of investigation, they discover that one of the doors has appeared within the school itself. Some of the students are immediately frightened by the appearance, while others are seemingly hypnotized by it, able to hear it whispering to them.
The second segment is called “Knockers,” named for the volunteers who begin to go through the portals in an attempt to learn more about the doors and what lies beyond. We follow a trio of Knockers as they take on a new assignment. This door is not their first, but certainly seems to be the strangest and the most mind-bending journey they have been on to date.
“Lamaj,” the third chapter, is strongest, focusing on a man who has set up his own investigation into the doors after he finds one in the woods and decides not to report it to the authorities. Instead, he begins experimenting with different methods of trying to bridge the gap and communicate with it. It’s definitely the most thought-provoking story of the bunch, examining different aspects of the nature of humanity and how our own actions can so drastically change the outcome of a given situation.
The concept is an interesting one, and each segment delivers something unique on its own and helps to convey a huge concept in smaller, bite-sized pieces. Where the film struggles is in the way these segments fail to come together to tell one cohesive story. The tones of each chapter feel far removed from one another, and jumping from one to another is a bit jarring. Particularly when you throw in the nameless final segment, which takes the film out of the realm of high-minded science fiction and seems to make an attempt to make it a little more digestible.
Overall, Doors is an interesting film that embraces an unconventional storytelling method to try to convey some rather big ideas, all on a minimal budget. And while it isn’t fully successful, it’s still a worthwhile experiment.
Movie Score: 3/5