Monday, November 20, 2023

Door (1988) is an excellent slice of '80s Japanese cinema.

I'm so glad Third Window Films is finding and restoring fantastic Japanese films like this. The interview with the director is very insightful and interesting too. If you're at all into Japanese cinema, I highly recommend you check out their releases (and get a cheap region-free Blu-ray player off eBay... it's definitely worth it or you'll miss out on so many phenomenal titles and extras). You also get Door 2 as a bonus film with this Blu-ray (it was previously only available on Japanese VHS, having never even gotten a DVD release in Japan before so I'm extremely glad it's included as well). This film does a great job setting up our main character's life and building suspense. They really show a lot of Japanese culture and daily life too with the picky trash rules, nosey neighbors returning trash, talk of the ID number system coming soon, overwork with her husband, their home routine, etc. I especially like how neither character is just good or bad so it's not black and white. It's easy to feel sympathy for the housewife since she is obviously barraged by annoying salesmen plus quite vulnerable when she is home alone (even her husband startles her when coming back) and yet the antagonist tries to be reasonable, at least at first. He stops his sales pitch and just attempts to give her a pamphlet. Then even after she crushes his hand in the door (a bit much on her part but she does feel threatened), he apologizes for losing his temper. Clearly he goes off the deep end after that but seeing how badly hurt his hand is and understanding how that could easily affect his job when he has a quota to fill, you can get a sense of where he's coming from. Maybe he takes it too far too fast but that is more engaging for the viewer and people sometimes snap like that in real life. The psychological games and how crazy it ends up really make this a fun watch along with a clever little twist but I love the way it escalates particularly one chilling moment where the door handle silently starts turning as someone watches (I don't want to spoil it but it's so well done). It's interesting too the director reveals the original script didn't become so violent and this was the first use of Steadicam in Japan. Home invasion Japanese style. Definitely check it out.