Sunday, September 02, 2007

Right at your Door (aka 24): almost a docudrama

Lions Gate recently helped produce the doomsday thriller “Right at your Door,” directed by Chris Gorak, about 90 min, R, to give a quasi real-time experience of what might happen at home to a man alone in a house if bioterror devices went off a few miles away. This is a real "Home Front" "war movie." The location is downtown Los Angeles, the home seems to be an ordinary bungalow in the Hollywood Hills, the man is a 35-ish unemployed musician supported by his wife, who happens to be at work. The scenes with the smoke over LA are quite effective, and more extensively done than in a similar scene in a similar plot line in the hit Fox series “24” last year.

The ultimate point of the film seems to be to show how government could mistreat its civilians in such a horrible situation. The man seals up his house with duct tape, after the police shoo everyone home (and shoot a few people) while imposing martial law. A neightbor comes, and this his wife crawls back home, and he must deal with the possibility of “contamination” he lets loved ones in. But, the G-men say, he could be the most contaminated of all. The climax is really quite horrifying, and there is plenty of red tape, literally. Nobody will stop to ask the Trump "Apprentice LA" question: what happens to Southern California real estate values?

The film is shot regular aspect ration in sepia color that in many scenes looks almost like black and white, especially toward the end as dust flies through the outside air like a blizzard. The look is a bit grainy.

Lionsgate used another company, Roadside Attractions, for theatrical distribution. I don’t know why, as Lions Gate Films normally is associated with distributing controversial films, like Michael Moore’s. RoadSide Attractions has its own blog here.

The best film of this nature may well be “Testament” (1983, Paramount, dir. Lynne Littman) when a woman is home when her kids in northern California when a nuclear blast goes off in San Francisco. That film was all drama, with no special effects (just television news feeds) as the radiation descends. But then there is always Stanley Kramer's film On the Beach (1959, United Artists), based on Nevil Shute's apocalyptic novel.

The film bears comparison to "The Trigger Effect" (1996, Universal / Gramercy / Amblin, dir. David Koepp) in which a prolonged power failure and lack of information leads to the breakdown of civilized order, as Biblical neighorliness fails also. It's interesting to compare the course of this film (given its date well before 9/11) with the reality of the northeast power blackout in 2003, which did not go nearly so badly.

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