The cast and crew of Fox Horror’s The Other Side of the Door talk the film – and the spooky side of India’s mysticism.
Audiences will soon find out what’s on The Other Side of the Door, because 20th Century Fox’s newest horror film is heading into theaters on March 4th.
Produced by Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Horns), directed by Johannes Roberts (F, Roadkill, Storage 24) and starring Sarah Wayne Callies (Prison Break, The Walking Dead) and Jeremy Sisto (Clueless, Suicide Kings, Wrong Turn, Thirteen), the film revolves around a family who lives an idyllic existence abroad in India until a tragic accident takes the life of their young son. That’s when things take a terrifying turn, as 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.
We sat down with the cast and crew and spoke to them about the film, and about what it was like to have India as the setting and inspiration for the supernatural elements within the plot.
Noted genre producer Alexandre Aja told us he was thrilled at the prospect of producing a horror film that was set in India. “The opportunity of exploring India as a backdrop was amazing. It was really unique – there’s such a particular, like, mysticism.”
Jeremy Sisto, who plays the father, Michael, concurred, noting that, “In India, there’s a long history of spirituality – of a connection with death, and the line between life and death… there was a lot to be explored.”
Director Johannes Roberts, who co-wrote the script with Ernest Riera (F, 47 Meters Down) has long been fascinated by that line between the living and the dead. Having come off the film Storage 24, which was co-financed by the Indian-based Medient studios, Roberts became intrigued by the idea of setting his new film in India and he began researching Indian folklore.
“There’s a village in the south of India called Bhangarh, which is totally abandoned. Nobody knows what happened to the occupants. It’s all fenced off and there are signs outside the village that say, ‘Don’t enter this place after sunset, because the ghosts of the dead walk the village,’ and ‘it’s a very dangerous place to be’ — and these are proper government signs outside! And I was just like, ‘Wow! This is a great story.’ And that sort of started the spark of it.”
“And then you have the Aghori [tribe], and, I mean, the Aghori are genuine. They’re followers of Shiva. They try and break as many taboos as possible, so they literally do, and if you watch videos of them – on Youtube or whatever – it’s pretty full on, you know they’ll take bloated, rotting bodies from the Ganges and they will eat the flesh of the dead. It’s pretty nasty stuff. And that all sort of formed the tapestry of which we made this movie.”
At the heart of The Other Side of the Door is the story of a family torn apart by a tragedy, and the desperate measures the mother, Maria (Callies), takes as her grief turns to madness. Maria begins to lose touch with rationality and turns toward unconventional and ultimately horrific measures to deal with her loss.
Callies touched on the topic of how fine a line actually exists between grief and madness. “By exploring these supernatural elements, Maria is opening a Pandora’s box she cannot close… When [her son] Oliver first comes back, she’s pretty psyched… and I think she’s very blind to the fact that this is an absolute nightmare and the worst thing that could possibly happen.”
When asked about comparisons to Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, another horror film in which a family member attempts to bring their son back from the dead, writer/director Roberts didn’t flinch at all. “I’m very open about my influences – I love Stephen King and I loved the story of Pet Sematary. I loved how it affected me emotionally… But you can’t – if you’re just re-hashing that, you’re not bringing anything emotionally new to the table, so it’s very hard to scare people. What I think we did – or what I hope we did – is I took things that really fascinated me as a kid and really fascinate me now, but then we had characters and a setting that hasn’t been done before.
“You know, horror movies for years have been doing the same thing…’don’t go down to the basement’ – that’s all they’re doing – turn the lights on, that’s what it is. But it’s getting an audience to invest in that. If they’re not invested in it, then it’s just a dark corridor with something that goes ‘bang!’ Maybe you jump, maybe you don’t, whatever. But if they’re invested in it, walking down that corridor is terrifying. You are like, what is in there? And that’s I hope what we achieved. We had a three-dimensional character going through a horrendous experience and then you know with all these other things on top, then it becomes very scary.”
Take a look at this freshly released clip from The Other Side Of The Door:
…and the official trailer for The Other Side Of The Door: