The Home Becomes a Battlefield in This J-Horror Thriller
Home is supposed to be a place of solace, a place where we feel safer than anywhere else, and a place where we can be free just to be. In the 1988 horror flick Door, just released on Screambox, the peace usually offered at home is obliterated by a simple salesman. In this Japanese horror film, Yasuko Honda, a mild, loving housewife, is initially annoyed at an influx of salesman and spam calls to her home. One day, an aggressive salesman forces his hand between her door and shoves a flyer at her. The event scares her enough that she smashes his hand between the door and the doorframe to her apartment, setting off a series of events leading to a gory end. Banmei Takahashi directed Door, and Agent 21 and the Directors Company produced it. Door was originally released on May 14, 1988 in Japan.
Housewife vs Salesman in an Epic Battle to the End
Door is a deceptively simple story that is told in a simple way. The scenes and cinematography lack sophistication, but somehow, the techniques used create a creepy, sinister vibe that is a slow burn to a sad, frightening ending. It’s surprisingly effective. There are no jumpscares, but the gore is intense enough. The beginning of the film sets up the feeling of normality of a family of husband, wife, and small child. The husband, Satoru Honda, is a workaholic who makes few appearances in the film. In the beginning, the movie features Yasuko, the housewife, and her young son, Takuto, going about everyday life. The scenes demonstrate a woman with very little help to turn to. She is solitary. Even when a man begins to harass her in a way that others can see and hear with no mistake, no one comes to her aid. The police don’t seem to care and don’t help her. Her neighbors largely ignore the screams and noises from her home, and some even scorn her. Slowly, the audience feels fear as the moving of her front door handle triggers anxiety for the viewer and Yasuko herself.
The plot is coherent and orderly. The story moves in a logical sequence, and the scenes are basic. It does take a while to work up to the exciting parts, but it effectively builds the intrigue and keeps the audience at the edge of their seat. This film is an original and is like no other film. As with many J-horror films, it is a first of its kind. The setting is distinctively ordinary, and the aesthetic is one of everyday Japanese 80s culture. This film does not have subtitles, so everything learned is because the audience either speaks Japanese or just reads the telltale human emotions of the actors.
The Characters Make the Grit of the Movie
Our protagonist, Yasuko Honda, is played by Keiko Takahashi. Keiko is the wife of the director, Banmei Takahashi. Keiko Takahashi carries the film with quality acting for the time. There are times when the audience must question the reactions of Yasuko, but that seems to be a plot flaw as opposed to a defect in the acting. She does a fantastic job of making the viewer feel the loneliness and helplessness of her character. Her ability to convey these emotions is one of the most vital elements of making this film great. Shiro Shimimoto plays the husband, Satoru Honda. Shimimoto is convincing as the oblivious husband, too engulfed in his work to notice the danger his family may be in. He is in very few scenes and seems to think all is well all the time. Takuto Yonezu, playing Honda’s young son, is a mixed story. At one point, he does an amazing job throwing a temper tantrum. There are other points where he seems to be lacking in emotions, but he does a convincing enough job for a child his age.
The cinematography and camera work were simple and effective at conveying fear and helplessness. At one point, the camera looks down from above the apartment, taking the audience on a ride through the most frenzied portion of the film. The movie’s soundtrack was mostly synthesizer music, so common among 80s movies of that time. Since the synthesizer music of this time was creepy anyway, it lends itself perfectly to the terror of the movie.
This J-Horror is Devastating, and Horrific
Door is an amusing film to watch with friends or family on Saturday night with pizza, popcorn, candy, and soda. It’s entertaining, and even those with a distaste for gore will enjoy it, as it is an older film. The makeup and effects are not as realistic as the audience of today is used to, so it won’t disgust those who don’t like the blood. This film is great to watch more than once for those who enjoy J-horror. If this movie were to be featured in a theater again, there is no doubt that the film would be even more exciting on the big screen. Just don’t let the turning of the door handle in your home become a trigger for personal horror!
Stream Door on ScreamBox and Prime Video now.
Official Door 1988 Trailer