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Someone's Knocking at the Door
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by Jay Seaver

"Does what it should."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2010 BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL: A lot of horror movies like to vary their means of delivering the kills, and "Someone's Knocking at the Door" does. But not too far, because, let's face it, when you open with "raped to death", pulverized intestines and various other uncomfortable details, well, what can filmmaker Chad Ferrin come up with that sounds worse?

That's what happened to Ray (Jordan Lawson), the poor guy. The police are investigating, but we see early on that they may not have all the information. At least initially, Ray's friends aren't talking about how they were reading the case files on 1970s serial killers John (Ezra Buzzington) and Wilma (Elina Madison) Hopper earlier -including the bits about returning - or the drugs they were taking while they did it. Justin (Noah Segan) was the most enthusiastic; straight-edge Meg (Andrea Rueda) the least. The other three, med students all, are foreign student Annie (Silvia Spross), stammering Joe (Ricardo Gray), and abrasive Sebastian (Jon Budinoff).

The plot is, at first glimpse, straight out of the slasher movie template: Dead serial killer, distinctive MO, plenty of young victims and unsuspecting cops to become a body count. Ferrin and his co-writers kick it up a couple notches, though; from the very beginning, the prospective victims are maybe not ready to turn on each other, but they're just as worried about each other as evil spirits. Maybe it's the drugs, the stress, or something else, but this movie seems to start at the level of paranoia other horror movies have to ramp up to.

That's cool, especially since it keeps us on our toes during the first act, when we spend a lot of time getting to know the characters and background. When the killing does start, though, it's suitably bloody and rapid-fire. There's bits that are tough to get out of one's head (nobody deserves to go out like that!) and bits that are nifty shocks because of how the storyline allows for sudden reversals. It's a high-quality horror spree, right up to the finale, which could sort of be expected from what we've seen earlier, but which works very well here because Ferrin and company hit us with what's going on and don't give us any time for the impact to lessen.

The cast is pretty good; not hugely complex characters, but well-essayed. Noah Segan's Jusitn is probably the most memorable, kind of annoyingly laid-back. It's a frequently funny performance, although one that has a certain scary edge in the character's blithe irresponsibility. Ricardo Gray and Jon Budinoff add tension with their competing paranoias. Silvia Spross does fairly well with the sketchiest of the characters, and Andrea Rueda does a good job of not making Meg stick out like a sore thumb despite her being the one laying off the drugs.

"Someone's Knocking at the Door" gets the job done - nastier in some ways than your standard slasher movie, a little more subdued in others, but pretty darn good for what it is.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=20463&reviewer=371
originally posted: 04/05/10 14:34:23
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Boston Underground Film Festival For more in the 2010 Boston Underground Film Festival series, click here.

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USA
  07-May-2010
  DVD: 25-May-2010

UK
  N/A

Australia
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Directed by
  Chad Ferrin

Written by
  Chad Ferrin
  Roham Ghodsi
  Rosie Roberts

Cast
  Noah Segan
  Andrea Rueda
  Ezra Buzzington
  Elina Madison
  Jon Budinoff



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