A young group of people are mysteriously texted an address for an unknown party. When they arrive, the address takes them to a dilapidated mansion with innards displayed as if time has ceased to exists. When the group tries to leave, all the doors to the outside won’t open, condemning them to the horrors of a magician’s vengeful spirit and his very large and frightening assistant who looms around the mansion’s endless corridors. As the group continues to butt against each other in distress and disbelief, one-by-one they fall victim to the magician’s gruesome parlor tricks behind every door and the only way out of the mansion may be dependent on their families’ legacies.
With a premise similar to the 1999 remake of “House on Haunted Hill” where a group of people are mysterious invited to a creepy house and end up in a death trap, I wouldn’t say director Kennedy Goldsby’s “Death’s Door” aka “The Trap Door” is entirely, 100 percent unique. In fact, much of the film is undeniably the same compared to William Malone directed remake, yet less entertaining and without an all-star cast and a vaster budget. “Death Door” lures with the headliners of more attractive and experienced stars with the Jamaican-born movie and television actor Obba Babatundé and the “Friday” franchise actor, and overall a big, badass monster of a man, Tommy “Tiny” Lister. Yet, like most smaller projects, I’m sure Obba’s and Tiny’s handful of scenes were the majority of the budget pie, leaving a few dollar bills at the bottom of the barrel for special effects that were desperately needed for a film about a ghoulish magician.
The effects were completely inadequate and can’t even equate to the same stature used for “House on Haunted Hill.” Off screen deaths, quick edits and cuts, camera angles, shoddy CGI, the over use of red tints, shaky camera, flash backs, and a prop skeleton tried to sell plausibility when really just added to absurdity. Aside from the lackluster effects, the Goldsby penned script logically doesn’t flow and fails to develop acts. While seeking for an exit, separate groups of characters aimlessly wander the house, trying door after door, and then the next scene could be one of those characters mixed in with another separate group, creating some continuity confusion. Also, much of the script settles to a stagnate, housing an unnecessary long montage of the group being bored, napping, looking glum, or walking from one part of the room to another. To put the cherry on top, a random nude scene is oddly inserted into a montage into the magician backstory portion. There’s no telling who the naked breasts belong to or why they’re naked to even begin with as the exploitive and titillating shot crops out the head and the setting is awfully generic, not placing the body in any familiar surroundings related to the mansion.
I will say that very few of the acting skill sets were not at a total loss. The fast-talking, wise-crackin’ Bruce played by Chico Benymon was entertaining; the character’s angst-fllled stand-up-comic style character goes against the grain, fleeting any ideas of ghosts or any form of malevolency. Tommy “Tiny” Lister is always top notch. The big man doesn’t even have to say a word and he’s downright menacing, even if his character, Jomo, stuffs emotionless Latina’s into tight spaces and fails to soil the pants of the mansion’s guest when quietly walking around them. Sarah Wagenvoord, who I was hoping had the mysterious naked breasts scene due to her massive…well, you know, should have played a more prominent role du in part to her character’s outcome. Actors Michael Bernardi, Felix Ryan, and Danielle Lilley maintained an average performance through a mirco-budget production. The rest foundered to capture any kind of terror or despair or just even trying to be a normal character, overacting the parts as if trying to put passion into reading straight from the script.
The video quality of the MVDVisual DVD comes with hardly any flaws in the video stock or any loss in the natural coloring. The stereo audio is a bit unbalanced between the LFE and the dialogue tracks, deducing to some loss dialogue over the pounding hammering sounds. The extras includes the Kennedy Goldsby directed music video of “Shorty Wassup” by Hip-Hop artist Sizzol Pop. The last piece of bonus material is a behind-the-scenes featurette from the actual haunted house set where the crew has personal encounters with the spirits. “Death’s Door” is a fools gold, a trap, that promises deadly snares, haunting ghoul, and many scares. The ending comes to a complete halt with only tall tales of what might have dastardly happened to most of the characters in the rickety mansion. I would recommend far better old mansion spook stories.