It’s not often that a film really rattles me. Sure, I’ve been rattled out of anger (regular readers will know what I’m referencing there) but to legitimately shake me up takes some doing. And this low-budget thriller did the doing. See, I’m so rattled I can’t even write properly.
Right At Your Door centres on married couple Brad and Lexi. Brad lovingly prepares his wife’s morning coffee and watched her go off to work in LA (he’s a musician so stays at home.) Then Brad hears on the radio that a series of explosions have happened in the city. Shit. In a mounting crescendo of panic, Brad tries to get to the city to help her, but is turned back by police. The bombs have released toxic gases into the air. Double shit. Brad seals himself into his home with acres of duct tape and we see the slow realisation that maybe his wife has just been killed. And then looky who shows up, coughing like an old woman and begging to be let inside…
Sparking the “what would I do in that situation” conundrum, Right At Your Door is a tense human drama. Yes, it features a massive attack on Los Angeles, but there are no flashy shots of destruction. We hear the chaos via the ongoing radio broadcasts and that is enough. The film sticks with Brad, with most scenes happening inside his increasingly claustrophobic home as he tries to comfort his wife through the sealed windows and battles with his own fear and confusion.
Such a restrictive premise requires a convincing lead, and Rory Cochrane pulls it off with chokingly realistic ease. The initial scenes, when the sickening realisation that his wife may have been killed grows on his panicked face, must surely strike chords with those whose loved one were in the various affected areas of the world’s recent events. The clawing terror when you can’t get hold of someone, the not knowing, the imagined outcomes. It sends shivers down my spine. Lexi, played by Mary McCormack, also holds her own, especially as she listens to voicemails from her mother, brother and best friend, all essentially saying goodbye. As well as referencing the current ‘arsehole’ culture we’re living in (terrorists, media, government all included) the film also plays perfectly on Joe Public’s mistrust of authority, as soldiers walk about in alien-like suits, giving little information and taking a worryingly firm stance on keeping infection to a minimum.
Perhaps in hindsight the additional characters are a little pointless to the plot, maybe just there to fill in the gaps and bring the running time to a feature film length. But none of that matters when the film builds to its climax. A desperate, rapid bastard of a climax that captures the helpless, frantic panic of the situation in all its unnerving glory. It rattled me. And reminded me of a scene in Watership Down. Which does make sense when you see it. Honest.
A film about dirty bombs in LA may sound like an action packed crap-fest, but Right At Your Door is far from it, and shouldn’t have been advertised that way. It is instead an emotional, unsettling drama worthy of your attention. This film gets an extra point because Rory Cochrane was so believable, and another for shaking me up so much. Therefore it storms in with CF2.