Doors AKA Portal
R2 - United Kingdom - Signature Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (8th April 2021).
The Film

Portal is captivating and visually-arresting sci-fi thriller that pushes the boundaries of science fiction storytelling. From the team that brought you V/H/S, Sea Fever and Becky, the film stars Josh Peck (Drake & Josh, Mean Creak), Wilson Bethel (Daredevil, Hart of Dixie) and Lina Esco (Kingdom, S.W.A.T.).

When a number of mysterious, alien "doors" appear suddenly around the globe, individuals from all walks of life must come together to discover what these doors are, where they lead, and if we can-or should-attempt to cross to the other side.

Video

Three short films centred around the linking theme of an arthouse approach to alien invasion; i.e. we'll set up a situation and not explain much so we get a slew of youngish actors all intoning their lines in whispered hushes to make it all seem filled with portent. The rumbly score burbles away almost constantly. The big problem is that no real explanation is ever offered, only at the end more questions

; a whole bunch of doors appear all over the planet and people disappear into them, some return as psychotics etc etc. The doors appear as walls of moving, alive black shag carpet.

The first segment delivers a fascinating setup with a seriously weird and creepy situation but then segues into being about the conflict between three of the characters: a teenage girl who doesn't identify as "her" and who wears a t-shirt saying "Fuck 'em all" (as if any school would allow that) and her relationship with another girl and an antagonistic boy who resents the first girl ... or something, yawnsville. The second segment also makes the fatal mistake of being arty, intriguing and then skipping dealing with the premise to devolve into more characterisation. Also, this is the segment that introduces the fact that the scientists investigating all this are called "Knockers"; to a UK resident that induces titters whenever it's said from that point on.

The third and longest (the last 31 minutes) has a lone scientist establish contact with one of the Doors and it seems to be sentient but fails to explain anything but does have more people shouting at each other. A coda seems to try and imply some kind of mind expanding explanation but it just came across as silly and doesn't really resolve much.

A digitally shot production with a slightly pastel-hazy quality and although the colour palette is naturalistic it does allow for some strong primaries at times; flesh tones are fairly muted though. Overall Doors / Portal has a muted look. Black levels are healthily black with no pallid greys. Shadow detail is generally decent and there's no signs of unintended crush. Contrast is lowkey for the most part although there are moments of brightness but with no clipped detail and where the image can be punchy.

This being a film lensed in at least 2K (most likely higher) it'll benefit much more from a BD or a UHD BD rendering. The encode is strong, beyond the digital grading there's no tinkering and I saw no compression artefacts. As strong a standard def image as we can get from the format. It's a short film with a high bitrate on a single layered DVD5 which does it's job well.

PAL / MPEG-2 / 2.35:1 / 80:58

Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles: None

Skip the 2.0 track as it's basic stereo and only has surround information if played through ProLogic II (or similar); when testing discs I set my amp to direct which plays the track as encoded directly off the disc. When played via PLII it's pretty effective but lacks the oomph and warmth of the 5.1. In any case, both are lossy Dolby Digital and are about as good as they can be for that format; a lossless or uncompressed option will be preferable.

This is a low budget film so don't expect a massively enveloping sound stage. It uses the surround channels predominantly for ambiance and some score; it's quite a front centric track and not as adventurous as it could be.

The lack of subtitles is pretty unforgivable here because the alien voices are at times unintelligible and yet characters onscreen react as if they've understood. Subs for the hearing impaired are a must these days. I'm sure the copyright holder will have them as they'll almost certainly be available on other releases around the globe. So B- for the sound as opposed to a B. I have a friend who MUST have subtitles for every thing she watches so this disc is effectively barred for her to enjoy.

Extras

Startup Trailers:
- Possessor (2:05)
- Synchronic (1:46)


The usual promos for other releases.

Packaging

Standard black DVD Keepcase.

Overall

Pretentious arthouse 3-part sci-fi portmanteau gets a nice standard definition rendering from Signature Entertainment in the UK. Image is as good as can be for the format and the sound is very good although it's an unambitious sound design to begin with. A big demerit though is once again the lack of any subtitles for the hearing impaired. I found some of the alien dialogue unintelligible and they would've helped my viewing. Also, I have a friend who can't watch anything without them so she's barred form enjoying this disc as a result.

There are no extras of note which is a shame as such an potentially intriguing film deserved some context ... and a BD release. But, the price is cheap and disc a quality release so recommended for those so inclined. The hardcore will seek out a foreign BD whilst the casual purchasers will be happy with this fine DVD.

The Film: C- Video: B+ Audio: B- Extras: E Overall: C

 


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