Kevin Cate’s mystery thriller Open Door runs to under four minutes, almost all of which is dedicated to an unexplained—but in every way unavoidable—horror for its two characters. Stuck in an elevator on free fall from somewhere around the 80th floor, a sharply dressed pair, co-passengers for what was to be a brief minute, are only to experience the horrors without any access to answers. Or anyone else, for that matter.
The experience of being stuck in an elevator is a blend of fears. On the one hand, you might die; on the other, you are truly isolated from the world. This writer shall not make the claim that this is a film about the pandemic, but the work certainly provides ample fuel to stoke that belief. Note the sudden onset of fatal danger, the resultant fear of close confines, or most tellingly, the particular attention paid to the man and woman as they hold hands in a moment of unbounded terror.
The unnamed characters, played by Sean Anthony Baker and Mia Matthews, end up in their predicament with no warning on an ordinary day. Their whole world is squeezed down to the elevator car, crashing and shuddering with no visible source for its disturbance. Indeed, the camera shows only the elevator from the inside and the outside. A larger world is only hinted at. This includes the personal lives of the characters, reduced to a shot of the wallpaper on the woman’s phone (no family flashback is better than a mawkish family flashback). As the elevator continues on its deathly path, the characters have no room to do anything but react. Despite the potential of this powerlessness, the restless editing interferes in the development of truly pervasive tension.
Whatever COVID-19 codes you may find in Open Door, it remains faithful to its genre and provides no answers. A mystery thriller with just the hints of sci-fi/horror thrown in at the very end, the film is interesting for what meanings it intentionally or unintentionally may yield. A plot reading of it provides only plain generic beats, after all.
Watch Open Door Short Film
Open Door: Micro Thriller About A Terrifying Catastrophe