Though the film version of 24 won't be released (reportedly) until 2009, its effect on cinema can be well felt in a film like Chris Gorak
's Right at Your Door. As smoothly as any of the six terrorist attacks in Fox's hit program, three "dirty" bombs go off in Los Angeles, causing a slow-moving toxic snowfall of ash that barely obscures the view of the L.A. skyline bellowing smoke and flames.
Sadly, there's no Jack Bauer in this mini-apocalypse, but rather his antithesis: a stay-at-home husband/wanna-be rock guitarist named Brad, played by 1990s slacker incarnate Rory Cochrane
. Furthermore, instead of finding the nearest gasmask and doing everything in his power to save his working wife Lexi (Mary McCormack
), he bunkers up in their sloping-suburbs house with the next-door gardener (Tony Perez
) and scotch-tapes every window, door, nook, cranny and crease the he can find. Then honey comes home: Contaminated. Article continues below
Unlike the recent Ils, Gorak's film takes a compact plot and expands it to a running time that it frankly can't handle. The director, aided without pause by the inventive cinematographer Tom Richmond, shows deft talent at movement and staging for the first half of the film, following the initial creep of information that infiltrates Brad. Running mouths on the radio become the film's main focus, essentially putting us in the same nervous realm as Brad as he curses and calls every cell phone, office line, and police call-in number he can find. Deriving fear simply from a lack of information, Gorak speaks not only of the mass hysteria one would encounter in such an event, but the excruciating inability to do anything about it.
br>When Brad's wife returns, things begin to get creepier as Lexi, covered in blood, vomit, and ash, begs for her husband to let her in and then, eventually, begins to belittle him through the sheets of plastic he has put up. But what begins as ravenous turns docile far too quickly, turning to a smaller argument about how far she can come into the house and what she can do to get medicine and treatment. What was first visceral digresses into a placid drama that focuses on the couple and basically ignores the outer terror they are withstanding.
With the exception of a brilliant scene where Lexi finds dead pigeons falling from the trees, there are hardly any thrills to be found in the second half of the film. McCormack and Cochrane play their parts well, making the strong emotional shifts more clever than the script by Gorak allows. The dialogue takes on a timid tone, especially near the end, where they (inescapably) talk about how they met and how much they love one another. Gorak's initial edgy thoughts on the spoiled male throwing away everything to become a primal survivor ultimately begets an absurd ending. As an experiment, Door meets the criteria, but the execution comes off as tepid, opting for political comment rather than human carnality. Though not a zombie film (if only!), Gorak's shuffling contagion thriller lumbers and groans like the living dead.