• The Forbidden Door (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: November 26th, 2021.
    Director: Joko Anwar
    Cast: Fachry Albar, Marsha Timothy, Ario Bayu, Tio Pakusadewo, Verdi Solaiman
    Year: 2009
    Purchase From Severin Films

    The Forbidden Door – Movie Review:

    Indonesian filmmaker Joko Anwar’s third film is 2009’s The Forbidden Door (Pintu Terlarang), a picture based on Sekar Ayu Asmara’s novel of the same name that opens at an art gallery showing where a sculptor named Gambir (Fachry Albar) is showing off his latest creations, at least when he isn’t sneaking away from the crowd, listening in on their conversations and drinking. Regardless, if he might be a little strange Gambir is doing just fine for himself. His specialty, oddly enough, is sculpting pregnant women and that seems to have caught on. He’s also married to a beautiful, loving wife named Talyda (Marsha Timothy) and has an impressive home. He is, financially at least, extremely successful.

    His world starts to twist and turn in strange ways when he starts finding simple notes around that are asking for help. He doesn’t know where they came from or who has sent them, but he certainly takes notice of them. He starts to become obsessed with this, seeing similar missives on the walls of buildings he explores, and then he somehow gets access to what is essentially a closed circuit security camera that broadcasts all manner of atrocities. As his obsession with all of this grows, it starts to become reflected in his artwork and his increasing paranoia becomes dangerously unhinged when he comes across a literal hidden door in his very home.

    Oh, and then there’s the fetuses.

    The Forbidden Door is a weird but effective movie, at times feeling like it’s been influenced by Davids Lynch and Cronenberg but still very much its own animal. Go into knowing that this one is a slow burn film. It comes within five minutes of the two hour mark and it definitely takes its time with the pacing, especially in the first half where our main character is slowly but definitely surely trying to figure out just what is happening around him and why. Unsure of his place in all of this, it’s understandable that start to investigate the way that he does, that’s the predictable part of the film, but once that starts, writer/director Joko Anwar, the man probably best known in the west for remaking Satan’s Slave, takes things in some surprising but seriously twisted and interesting directions.

    Performances are really good here. Fachry Albar, who showed up in V/H/S/2¸ is excellent in the lead here. His mental breakdown is really well handled here, we believe his increasing fear and paranoia as we see what he’s going through, it’s all handled very well. The rest of the cast is solid as well, even the supporting players. As far as the production values go, the effects work featured in the picture is quite good, if not super intricate. The score works nicely and the cinematography quiet accomplished as well.

    The Forbidden Door – Blu-ray Review:

    Severin Films brings The Forbidden Door to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen taking up 33.8GBs of space on the 50GB disc. Shot digitally in 2009 with a modest budget, this isn’t home theater demo material but it looks decent, even if it’s a bit flat in appearance. Clearly an accurate representation of the original source material, detail certainly rises above what standard definition could provide but stops a few steps short of reference quality. That said, it’s genuinely unlikely that the film will look a whole lot better than it does here on any other format. It doesn’t look bad at all, it just looks like a modest digital video production from 2009. There are no authoring issues here, compression is fine and overall, this is definitely way more than watchable, just not amazing.

    The only audio option is a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track in the film’s original Indonesian language. While this isn’t the most robust track you’re ever going to hear, it sounds fine. The levels are balanced, the score sounds pretty solid and there are no problems to note with any hiss or distortion. Dialogue is also clean, clear and strong sounding. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary featuring director Joko Anwar that is quite informative but delivered at a very relaxed, almost calming pace. He talks about the film's production schedule, where he was at personally when he made the film, some of the locations that were used for the shoot in Jakarta, some of the specifics and details of the placement of the cast in certain scenes (which was meant to have a mechanical, unnatural look), the score used in the picture, his appreciation for the cast that he got to work with on the film, how some of the effects and props were created for the film, some of the dark humor that is in the film, his thoughts on parenthood and the complications that stem from bringing another person into the world when you can't guarantee their safety, certain elements that are more acceptable in Indonesian films that aren't necessarily as accepted in other film scenes, his love of horror films since childhood and lots more. There's some dead air here and there but overall, this is quite interesting.

    Opening The Door is a really interesting and earnest interview with Joko Anwar that runs for seventeen minutes. Here he speaks about how growing up poor in a dysfunctional family lead him to love horror pictures, the honesty of the genre, how he got into filmmaking after finishing college and working as a journalist and critic, getting his start writing scripts, how he came to direct The Forbidden Door and his thoughts on the book that inspired it, setting the film in Jakarta, the themes that the film explores, his writing process, his thoughts on the influence of violent films on the real world and the use of violence in his own films and quite a bit more.

    Up next is a selection of deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary from Anwar that put the scenes into context and explain why they were removed from the finished version of the movie. There are four scenes in total here.

    Behind The Scenes Featurette is a twenty-two minute piece that is fairly EPK in its nature. There's some cool footage of the cast and crew at work here, some interviews with the actors and actresses featured in the picture explaining their characters and roles, but it's very clip-heavy and fairly promotional in nature. Still, the interviews are mildly interesting and some of the behind the scenes footage is pretty interesting to see.

    The Herosase Footage section is a seven minute segment of material that is meant to look like low quality security camera footage that shows, among other things, the abuse of the boy in the film and then some other related 'captured moments' like when a naked man is whipped by a woman in lingerie, a prison rape scene, a woman doing needlepoint that goes horribly wrong, the molestation of a school girl and a few other related odds and ends.

    Finishing up the extra features is a poster and still gallery, two trailers for the feature, menus and chapter selection. This release also comes packaged with some reversible cover sleeve art.

    The Forbidden Door – The Final Word:

    The Forbidden Door takes too long to get going but once it does, it proves to be a really solid mix of horror, suspense and general weirdness, the kind that will reward patient viewers who don’t need things to move at a mile a minute. Those who don’t bail during the slower points will find a very effective slow-burn picture with this offering from Joko Anwar, and Severin’s Blu-ray release gives the film a more than respectable presentation with a nice selection of interesting extra features mostly centered around the film’s director.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Forbidden Door Blu-ray screen caps!