September 09, 2007

MOVIES: Right at Your Door (Chris Gorak, 2006)

A typical spring morning in Los Angeles. Brad (Rory Cochrane) gets up early to make coffee; Lexi (Mary McCormack) gets ready for work. They've just moved into this house, and the boxes haven't even been unpacked.

Shortly after Lexi leaves, there's a news bulletin on the radio -- bombs have exploded across the city, including one downtown, where Lexi works. Brad makes a futile attempt to drive there to rescue her, then returns home. By now, it's been announced that the bombs were chemical dirty bombs, and that the smoke and ash they spread are toxic. Brad boards up the home, leaving the front door open as long as possible in hope that Lexi will make it back. She eventually does, but of course, it's too late, and she's so covered in ash that Brad can't risk letting her in.

Right at Your Door is at its best in the early going, when it builds a tremendous amount of tension and panic. Brad's anguish at being unable to help his wife is moving, as is Lexi's horror at being locked out. But once we reach that situation, there isn't much change possible -- she still wants to get in, he still can't let her -- and writer/director Gorak doesn't find a way to keep the static situation interesting. To make matters worse, Brad and Lexi aren't very likable people. They're selfish and nasty to one another. True, stress brings out the worst in some people, but these two are so intensely unpleasant that I found myself rooting for the toxic ash.

In the final few moments, the authorities take steps that are viciously and unnecessarily cruel; it's meant to be an ironic twist, but it's so implausible and unpleasant that it left me with a sour taste in my mouth. The movie had gotten off to such a promising start that its ultimate failure was all the more disappointing.

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