Dim Lighting Makes It Tough To Get A Look At "The Thing On The Doorstep" Review

She's a fanatical devotee of the black arts.

In The Thing on the Doorstep (2014), Daniel Upton (David Bunce) is an artist with an annoying friend, Edward Derby (Rob Dalton). Though Upton introduces himself as Derby's reluctant friend, he is rather attached to him, lending money, chauffeuring him around at times, and being generally devastated as he is driven mad by his new wife Asenath Waite (Mary Jane Hansen). Upton's wife Marion (Susan Cicarelli-Caputo), a psychologist--right?--makes firm but vague mental diagnoses of both Asenath and Edward and is, incidentally (and irrelevantly) pregnant. Something strange is going on here and I'm not just talking about the lighting. Is it Cthulhu? No really, is it?

Adapting what is, according to the three cited critics on the Wikipedia page, HP Lovecraft's worst story, writer Mary Jane Hansen is reverent and director Tom Gliserman is earnest. Bad literature passes for pretty decent plotting when it comes to low-budget horror films, but Hansen's effort to massage out the 30's style is inconsistent and the actors pay the price. I often wonder why some people, let's call them nerds, talk so strangely and now I have a suspicion why. They read Lovecraft and then read authors who also read Lovecraft and then never had more than a few conversations with people who read anything else. Stilted in cadence and word choice, an actor would have to have hypnotic vocal abilities to keep an audience engaged. The actors in The Thing on the Doorstep certainly aren't terrible. There are a number of scenes where one of them shows real charisma. I don't remember where they were all doing it at the same time, but that blame goes to the director.

The technical flaws on display, however, are more likely to take your notice and ruin your experience. The sound isn't much better than you could get from your iPhone and was probably the native microphone on whatever outdated camcorder they used. Because if the sound was rough, the visuals were rougher. The angles weren't too bad and the narrative sections were gratifyingly still--as opposed to the queasily-filmed, nuthouse segments. But the quality of the camera was poor and Gliserman ingeniously covers that problem with invasive, impressionistic color "correction" and intentionally dreadful lighting. The fact that there is a constant spot of burning light somewhere on screen even in the nighttime scenes supports my reading that this mistake was intentional. A good DSLR and boom mic would have allowed for a more traditional style.

BONUS FEATURES

There are no bonus features

"The Thing on the Doorstep" is on sale November 18, 2014 and is not rated. Horror. Directed by Tom Gliserman. Written by Mary Jane Hansen. Starring David Bunce, Rob Dalton, Susan Cicarelli Caputo.

Dec
02
2014
Jason Ratigan • Staff Writer

A lawyer-turned-something-else with a strong appreciation for film and television.  He knows he can't read every great book ever written, but seeing every good movie ever made is absolutely doable.  Check out his other stuff on Wordpress.

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