Never Open The Door Blu-ray Review

Twilight Zone homage veers into horror territory in this indie chiller

The Evil Dead meets the Twilight Zone in this low-budget horror thriller. Never Open The Door is enjoyable indie entertainment, shot in black-and-white for a retro feel. Coming from the filmmakers behind Bloody Bloody Bible Camp, Never Open The Door has some rough edges but offers decent special effects and an intriguing story.

Has anything good ever happened at a secluded cabin in the woods? Apparently not according to decades of recent horror films. Why anyone would use them for a pleasant vacation is beyond my understanding after watching too many horror movies. That trope plays out once again in Never Open The Door.

Six friends enjoying Thanksgiving dinner together are interrupted by a mysterious stranger knocking at their door. The group of eager twenty-somethings are not expecting any guests. When Tess (Jessica Sonneborn) answers the door, the stranger spits up blood on her before dying in the hallway. His final warning is “Never open the door!” before croaking for good. Has Tess been infected with something or is she merely losing her mind?

Things soon go from bad to worse for the friends as they confront what is possibly an evil doppelganger of someone they know. Cut off from civilization, their cellphones mysteriously stop working. Receiving only brief texts from unidentified sources, fear and dissension quickly pit the friends against unseen forces inside the house.

… a combination of special effects and make-up prosthetics create genuine suspense and fear

Never Open the Door stars Jessica Sonneborn (Dog Eat Dog, House Across The Street), Kristina Page (The Haunting of Alice D), George Troester (Face Off) and Deborah Venegas (Bloody Bloody Bible Camp). This is obviously not a star-studded cast. The small indie film offers competent acting, especially from its female cast members. The male actors fare less well, including stiff line deliveries and a few hammy moments. This isn’t Oscar-winning work but frankly gets the job done for indie horror on a budget. Never Open the Door’s better moments come from its stylish horror sequences, when a combination of special effects and make-up prosthetics create genuine suspense and fear.

Producer Christopher Maltauro’s grandfather John Brahm was a film and television director. Brahm worked on such shows as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and the original Twilight Zone in his long Hollywood career. Never Open The Door is a modern homage to that type of entertainment, updated with nods to movies like Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead series and even euro-horror like Them. The effects are fairly creepy. Never Open The Door’s moody black-and-white cinematography possibly hides the film’s lack of budget, which is probably a good thing.

After a clunky opening dinner scene with stilted dialogue, the crisply paced film hums with real tension and frights. Barely over an hour in length, the thriller feels exactly like a teledrama made for one of the classic anthology series. Is it derivative? Yes, but Never Open The Door simply works at its main goal of scaring viewers. Some viewers may check out before the action picks up but it is definitely worth watching.

Never Open The Door is a suspenseful chiller with a clever ending. Classic anthology television lovers should make sure to catch it.

Never Open the Door Blu-ray screen shot 10

Video

Maltauro Entertainment distributes Never Open The Door on Blu-ray in fairly limited video quality that accurately reflects its low-budget production values. The 64-minute main feature is encoded in MPEG-2 video on a BD-25. Yes, someone is still using that antiquated compression format.

Encoded in poor parameters, the black-and-white video in 1080P resolution suffers from minor banding. Shot on lower-end digital cameras, it offers adequate definition and ordinary clarity. The movie is presented at 1.78:1.

Made on the cheap, Never Open The Door has steady but mediocre picture quality for a new production. Minor aliasing and some scattered incidents of moiré fringe patterns appear in the relatively sharp video. The contrast is acceptable, though the soft black levels could be better. The film screams indie digital video and that aesthetic rules from beginning to end.

Audio

The 2.0 Dolby Digital soundtrack at 192 kbps has clean dialogue and fairly nice audio design. Expecting a limited sonic experience, this track punches above its limitations. The moody score by Carlos Vivas comes through in strong fidelity with proper dynamics. For low-budget fare this is solid work, heard in fine clarity. A lossless option may have improved things in the bass department.

Optional English subtitles display in a yellow font. They are hidden and have to be enabled by the player itself.

Extras

Several special features are included with director Vito Trabucco and actress Jessica Sonneborn appearing in interviews. The featurettes give a good sense of how this small movie was developed and its aims.

Special Features:

  • Original Trailer (01:39 in HD)
  • A Conversation with Actress Jessica Sonneborn (07:22 in HD) – The actress playing Tess discusses her past experience working with these filmmakers on Bloody Bloody Bible Camp and her work on Never Open The Door.
  • A Conversation with director Vito Trabucco (11:41 in HD)
  • A Conversation with producer Christopher Maltauro (11:45 in HD)
  • Photo Gallery (04:20 in HD) – A series of still photographs from the movie and the set.
  • For Maggie (06:15 in SD) – A featurette on make-up artist Maggie Dillon’s work with input by Jessica Sonneborn and Vito Trabucco.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not influenced DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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