Horror movies would not exist or be much shorter if the characters in them would just follow instructions.  Instead, they always seem to ignore warnings and read from forbidden books, feed Gremlins after midnight, or engage in dubious burial practices.  The latter is a key plot point in The Other Side of the Door, a supernatural horror film that's very familiar.

Maria (Sarah Wayne Callies) and her husband Michael (Jeremy Sisto) are an American couple living in Mumbai, India.  They have a young daughter named Lucy (Sofia Rosinsky) and seem like they should be happy -- but that's not the case.  Maria is always depressed, because (as we learn in a flashback) they also had a young son named Oliver, and when the car went into the river Maria had to leave Oliver to drown while she saved Lucy.

After Maria almost overdoses on sleeping pills, the housekeeper Piki (Suchitra Pillai) has an unusual solution for her: If Maria goes to a remote temple in the forest and spreads Oliver's ashes at its steps, when night falls she will be able to speak to Oliver through a locked door and say her final goodbyes.  But Piki makes Maria promise that no what she hears, she is not under any circumstances to open the door.
Of course Maria makes the trip -- and of course she winds up swinging open the door.  It's not long afterwards that strange things begin happening: Aborigine-type men appear and chant, Oliver's favorite stuffed animal begins turning up, things in the house keep moving, Lucy claims she's playing with Oliver, and mysterious figures start appearing.  Soon these events become much more menacing, Maria's nightmares seem to be coming true, and things keep getting worse and worse...

The Other Side of the Door isn't a terrible horror movie, but it has far too elements that have been used many times before.  The grieving parent whose bringing back a deceased child with terrible results has been used plenty of other times -- from "The Monkey's Paw" to Pet Sematary -- and nothing original or surprising is done with that cliche here.  I was hoping the Indian setting would lead to more exotic elements, but that's almost never the case here.  Instead, we get dark figures either lurking in shadows or creeping forward, over and over.  This movie was a letdown.

Overall grade: C-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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