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Right At Your Door review

Along with United 93, Paradise Now and World Trade Center, Chris Gorak’s no-budget Sundance chiller taps into the prattle and thrum of the current big issue: terrorism. With his working wife Lexi (Mary McCormack) probably zapped by a ‘dirty’ bomb detonation in downtown LA, unemployed guitarist Brad (Rory Cochrane) is forced to seal himself inside their suburban home to shut out the approaching poison cloud. But then possibly toxic Lexi turns up and he can’t let her in...

Like United 93, Right At Your Door focuses on the response of ordinary humanity to extraordinary inhumanity. Gorak’s jitter-cam stays firmly trained on and in the house, tracking every flinch of Brad’s claustrophobic quandary. Wisely, he resists the urge to cut to the clamour and carnage of Ground Zero; it’s more than enough to hear it all babbled out as background radio chatter.

Locked inside a single location, Gorak draws his drama from the post-9/11 American love/hate relationship with authority: heavy-handed curfew cops; bio-suited hulks looming at the windows... With anarchy swelling outside, Brad prefers to trust his instincts over his government. “It says so on the news!” insists Lexi. “Fuck the news!” counters Brad.

The tension slackens in the middle half-hour, as Gorak struggles to expand his story beyond the in-built shackles of its concept. Side-characters bob into view, only to drift away inexplicably; sub-plots spark, but never really ignite. Maybe that’s the point, though: confusion reigns.

 

On paper, it might all look like an almighty Zeitgeist-shag, but there’s a big ol’ heart pounding beneath the harshness. From the opening scenes of Brad and Lexi’s sexual estrangement, through the montage of desperate cellphone messages, to the howling, knuckle-gnawing horror of its final five minutes, Right At Your Door is all about our most primal urge: connection.

Unstarry cast and lo-fi looks, but one of the year's most effective thrillers. An all-too plausible human horror story for our twitchy times.

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