A family lives an idyllic existence abroad until a tragic accident takes the life of their young son. The inconsolable mother learns of an ancient ritual that will bring him back to say a final goodbye. She travels to an ancient temple, where a door serves as a mysterious portal between two worlds. However, when she disobeys a sacred warning about never opening that door, she upsets the balance between life and death.
The fine line between the living and the dead has long fascinated writer-director Johannes Roberts, who had been exploring the concept of a spirit that lived on the other side of a foreboding door. “I love stories that deal with the forbidden -- don't go up in the attic, don't feed the gremlins after midnight – when you’re wondering what's going to happen and when is it going to happen.”
Roberts learned of an abandoned Indian village, Bhangarh, which was rumoured to have a haunted temple that warned visitors it was illegal to enter at night. That notion immediately struck a chord with the filmmaker. “The concept of being warned against opening the door, and a village where the ghosts of the dead walk after sunset, really clicked together for me,” says Roberts, who began working on a script with his long-time writing partner Ernest Riera.
“Johannes came to me with this idea of a woman who lost a son, but who could talk to him through a temple door,” says Riera. After months of scribbling ideas on napkins and coffee stirrers, they knew they were onto something special.
As a diehard genre fan, Roberts says he “enjoys connecting with my own fears, escaping from everyday life, and experiencing a catharsis. While writing the screenplay, Roberts and Riera felt immersed in their own ghost story. “Writing is like watching a horror film – when we start writing we become obsessed, and when we finish it we are possessed by the story,” Roberts notes.
Even before travelling to India, Roberts had decided he wanted audiences to experience the genre through a different cultural lens. “When I did visit the city of Mumbai in India, I discovered a fascinating, dark city, and not the relaxing ‘Hotel Marigold’ version,” Roberts recalls. “I really liked that.”
Riera continues, “We wanted to find a setting for the film in a faraway country, which 3 would facilitate a suspension of disbelief in ghosts.”
Sarah Wayne Callies (The Hills Have Eyes, The Walking Dead) plays the film’s central character, Maria, outwardly the idealized version of the American middle class woman who has everything, including a devoted husband and two children.
“Sarah brings a real intensity to the character of Maria,” says Roberts. “I really understood her fragility – the cracks in her armour. As the story unfolds, the cracks get bigger and bigger, and I could feel Maria trying to pull her world around her together. Sarah conveys that, beautifully. She also brings a real confidence and delicacy to the role. The movie rests on her shoulders, and she really ran with it.”
“The Other Side of the Door is a story about a family and about a woman who crosses the line from grief to madness,” says Callies. “I have never played a character that revolved so completely around loss and the inability to heal. Until that tragedy, Maria had always walked between raindrops. She’d been so fortunate, and then in the space of an hour it all changes.” Adds Roberts, “Maria can’t cope with what’s happened to her. She becomes increasingly removed from her husband, Michael, and struggles to be a mother to her daughter.”
Always great fans of the horror genre, we are intrigued to see this unique sounding film from director, Johannes Roberts, frightening our audiences!!
The Other Side of the Door opens at Showcase Cinemas Friday 4th March