Thursday, March 02, 2017
Don't Open The Door (1975)
DIRECTOR: S.F. Brownrigg
James N. Harrell
When Amanda Post was a young girl, her mother was brutally murdered in her bed, and Amanda discovered her mother's body. Now thirteen years later and all grown up, she must return to the home of where the murder took place to take care of her now ill grandmother. When she arrives, she starts to receive creepy and menacing phone calls for an unknown person, and things begin to escalate to murder when she gets trapped inside the house with a homicidal maniac.
Starting this whole slasher movie retrospective, I've discovered that the seventies are where the unseen phone caller harassing the lonely girl or babysitter inside an empty house was born. First, we had Fright back in 1971, and a few years later we had what people would consider to be the original slasher movie Black Christmas in 1974. Then following that a few years later, we had When A Stranger Calls. Don't Open The Door which is also known as Don't Hang Up sits somewhere in between these films.
I have a feeling that by the time that I reach the year 1979 of this whole slasher retrospective that I'll have watched about four hundred of these type of films. If I were to continue this little trip down the rabbit hole and into the nineties. I think I would have seen even more of these types of rehashed plots. I'm only on my third film of this type and five years into the seventies and I feel like they've already run out of ideas with the creepy phone caller.
Don't Answer The Door is a movie that feels like it brings nothing new to the table. This is quite similar to Fright regarding our girl in a big house and receiving obscene phone calls. While Fright is less explicit concerning the caller and his demeanour and comments. This takes it one step further but doesn't get as sinister and sexualised as those heard in the original Black Christmas. It feels like it takes elements from both but coming out after both of them, it feels neither original nor fresh in its approach.
The movie starts off right away. The movie opens with our main character as a young child who finds her mothers body after she's been murdered. Cut to a title card with thirteen years later, and she's all grown up. She soon returns to the house where her mother was murdered so she can look after her sick grandmother. After the opening murder, the movie comes to a complete standstill. The movie moves at a glacial pace, and besides a few quick murders and creepy phone calls, nothing much else happens in the film.
The running time of Don't Open The Door runs at roughly an hour and a half. This movie spends most of its time with our main character taking baths, walking around while exploring the house and running into older gentlemen who are all perverted or trying to convince our young lady into giving up the house for various reasons. There isn't much more to the plot than that. The movie really is quite dull. I don't expect a bloodbath with all my horror films, but when you don't have much else going on, I'd like a bit of gore with my monotony.
Where this film really gains points from me is the phone calls. This is where the movie gets a lot of its creepiness from. When I first watched Black Christmas, I was shocked to see a creepy caller drop the c-word on a bunch of college girls. For the audience in the seventies, this would've been even more shocking and disturbing. While the calls never get to that point in Don't Open The Door, this took it as far as I think a studio let them go and they do at times become uncomfortable when the killer starts asking our main character to moan like she does when she makes love.
When it comes to the deaths and violence in the movie, this is all pretty tame and are completely cut up to the point where everything happens so quickly that you don't get to see much of the gore and that red stuff. This is all pretty tame. You're likely to see more blood and gore in an episode of CSI or NCIS. I think had the deaths been a little more graphic and brutal in the movie, I may have been more generous and given this movie an extra point.
Lastly, the acting in Don't Open The Door is pretty solid. It's all held together on the leading performance by Susan Bracken. She plays the role quite well. I enjoyed the fact that she starts off receiving the calls and has a sassy quality to her. She seems to take no shit from this unseen and obscene phone caller. Over the course of the film's running time, she slowly starts to descend into madness, and by the end of it, I really thought she did a wonderful job.
DEATH TOLL: 4
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Someone is stabbed to death while in bed.
- A dead body is shown with a knife in it.
- Someone is stabbed in the back.
- Someone is repeatedly hit in the head with a hammer.
- Someone is repeatedly hit in the head with a statue.
- Someone falls over a bannister to their death.
- A man is smacked in the head with a hammer.
Don't Open The Door! is a movie that is incredibly light on slasher, story and scares. The film is let down by its incredibly slow pace and barely their plot. Where the movie does garner points with me is that the film has a great leading performance by Susan Bracken and the phone calls are quite creepy and at times uncomfortable. Had Fright and Black Christmas not already done this first and a lot better, we may have been looking at a somewhat masterpiece.