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RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR

Letís hope this bleak and alarming film, about terrorists who cripple L.A. by detonating ďdirty bombs,Ē is far-fetched scaremongering--because if not then weíd best head for the fallout shelters ASAP!

The Package 
     RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR, completed in 2006 and commercially released by Lionsgate a year later, joins David Koeppís TRIGGER EFFECT (1996) as an effective small scale look at wide-spread disaster.  With skilled performers like Rory Cochran (DAZED AND CONFUSED) and Mary McCormack (IN PLAIN SIGHT) headlining, it canít help but work. 
     The writer/director Chris Gorak made his debut with this film, coming off years of work as an art director for the likes of Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, Terry Gilliam and the Coen Brothers.  Gorak clearly picked up a lot from those guys, as evinced by his extremely skilled work on RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR.

The Story 
     Brad is an unemployed musician living with his office worker wife Lexi in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles.  On this particular morning Lexi leaves for work and, seconds later, the radio begins airing reports about dirty bombs set off throughout the city.  Not that Brad needs this info, as he only has to look out his living room window to see clouds of toxic smoke darkening the air. 
     His first impulse is to chase Lexi down.  However, cops have already closed off all the streets in Bradís neighborhood, and order him to turn around and seal himself in his house.  This he does, but makes a stop at a hardware store thatís in the process of being looted to grab some duct tape.
     Back home he finds Alvaro the cable man inside, and the two work to seal up the house.  But then the first of many surprises occurs when Lexi unexpectedly turns up.  Brad and Alvaro decline to let her in, as the toxic fumes clogging the air will surely kill them.  She responds by tossing a brick through a window, which Brad and Alvaro quickly seal up.
     Before long Alvaro takes off in search of his own family, leaving Brad alone in the house with his wife outside.  At night some guys in radiation suits show up and take away the brick Lexi tossed through the window.  More time passes before the men return--and this time their intentions are far deadlier.
 

The Direction 
     As a prickly, tension filled drama RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR is virtually unassailable.  Chris Gorak conjures a sense of disquiet and unease in the opening minutes that intensifies in Bradís hair-raising drive through his neighborhood, with police blocking off seemingly every corner.  Itís the filmís only pure action sequence, and its chilly aftereffects linger throughout. 
     Much of the filmís final two thirds consist of a stagy marital psychodrama between two never-better actors.  The small scale was due to Gorakís limited budget, which didnít provide him with the resources to dramatize the full or even partial scale of the terrorist attacks.  Yet the confined setting presents us with an appropriately claustrophobic interior space whose forbidding aura is enhanced by dark, murky visuals.  Thereís no political sloganeering of any sort; the identities of the terrorists are left obscure, as are their motives.  Like most of us, the filmís protagonists are left to fend for themselves in an atmosphere of ever-present danger and unanswered questions.
     Be advised that the narrative arc is stunningly grim.  I couldnít help but wonder throughout why it never occurred to Brad to take his chances on the outside, which in light of what eventually happens would have been an excellent idea! 
 

Vital Statistics 

RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR
Thousand Words 

Director: Chris Gorak
Producers: Jonah Smith, Palmer West
Screenplay: Chris Gorak
Cinematography: Tom Richmond
Editing: Jeffrey M. Werner
Cast: Mary McCormack, Rory Cochrane, Tony Perez, Scotty Noyd Jr, Max Kasch, Jon Huertas, Will McCormack, Hector Luis Bustamante
 


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