The Other Side of the Door is British-Indian film directed by Johannes Roberts, known for his previous titles such ‘Storage 24’, ‘F’, and ‘Hellbreeder’. Set in the charming yet chaotic city of Mumbai, we follow the character of Maria (Sarah Wayne Callies), dealing with the traumatic loss of her son and her desperate attempt to move on from this tragedy. Dealing with West-meets-East ideals, this film follows the typical format of a paranormal film with the added twist of Indian rituals and a karmic system.
The film opens with a young couple, Maria and Michael (Jeremy Sisto), who decide to stay in Mumbai to bring up their unborn child. Flash forward six years, and we learn the devastating trauma behind this film. Maria is plagued by chronic nightmares reliving the death of her son Oliver; her car had gone off road and was sinking, as his leg was trapped Maria was left with no alterative otehr than leave him behind to save his younger sister, Lucy. Maria has since fallen into a deep depression, cursing her decision to leave him, and makes and attempt on her life. Waking up after this attempt in hospital, her housekeeper Piki (Suchitra Pillai-Malik), who has coincidentally also lost a child to drowning, offers her help. She tells Maria of a temple in the South of India, where you can speak to your loved ones one more time before they are lost in the Karmic system. Her only warning: do not open the door.
Obviously, a grief-stricken Maria decides to do this. She arrives at the temple, follows the instructions and waits. Then she hears Oliver. Maria holds up her promise to not open the door, only until she hears Oliver saying ‘She’s coming for me…’, upon which she panics, opens the door, and sees nothing (and anyone who knows anything about horror films will know this is the beginning of the end for Maria).
Oliver’s soul has returned and begins to turn evil, leading to some pretty bad behaviour from the lad. Starting out seemingly harmless, such as throwing toys around and presenting the Jungle Book to his mother to read, he quickly turns violent as we see when he is standing present next to his sister and bites her on the shoulder. This is the least of the trouble from Oliver; he drowns Piki, possesses Lucy, and gets her to stab their father and their poor, sweet dog Winston (who attempted to alert the family of the spirit but went unnoticed, seriously, never ignore a dog, they know).
Not only is Maria dealing with the unexpected return of Oliver’s spirt, she is fighting off the six-armed gatekeeper Myrtu (played by Javier Botet, a creature specialist that you might recognise from ‘Mama’) who has come to collect Oliver and return him to the dead, as well as a bunch of half-naked Shamans that look like they’ve lost their way to Glastonbury. Meanwhile, husband Michael is conforming to the traditional role of dad-at-work-while-mum-cleans-up-the-mess that is apparent in too many horror films.
Whilst you may feel you’ve seen the possessed child trick many times (i.e. The Omen, Carrie), this shouldn’t put you off this film. Yes, it strictly conforms to conventions of horror and paranormal behaviours, but this film engages you through character building and some decent scares (even I jumped a few times myself, embarrassingly enough). What makes this film stand out for me is the inclusion of Indian deities and belief systems, a much-welcomed break from the never-ending cycle of films about demons and spirits that can only be defeated by the Christian God.