Reviews

Right at Your Door

Who is the one that's really trapped in this situation? Is Lexi locked out of the house, or is Brad locked in it?


Right at Your Door

Director: Chris Gorak
Cast: Mary McCormack, Rory Cochrane, Tony Perez, Jon Huertas, Scotty Noyd Jr.
Distributor: Lionsgate
MPAA rating: R
Studio: Roadside Attractions
First date: 2006
US DVD Release Date: 2008-01-29
Website
Trailer

Right At Your Door begins with a sprawling disaster: Dirty bombs are set off in downtown Los Angeles, the air becomes toxic, and those safe inside houses must seal them off with plastic and duct tape while those outside can only hang tight and wait for further instructions. In a nation that's lived through 9/11 -- which director Chris Gorak says is one of the inspirations for the film -- the scope of the chaos is all too familiar. There's an iconic skyline encircled in clouds of smoke (stock footage of Kuwaiti oil fires, says Gorek), ash falling from the sky, panicked drivers trying to find their loved ones, and so on.

Yet Gorak manages to wring the maximum amount of fright out of this situation not by how large the disaster looms, but how small he makes it. His film centers on a newlywed couple: Brad (Rory Cochrane) and Lexi (Mary McCormack). When the bombs detonate, Lexi is on her way downtown, leaving Brad in the home they haven't yet finished unpacking. He waits for Lexi to emerge from the wreckage until the neighbor's handyman Alvaro (Tony Perez) begs him to seal up the house for both of their sakes. Brad obliges, and then Lexi returns, only to find that they've locked her out -- and won't let her back in, for fear of contamination.

That's the central conflict for the whole film. In a disaster that's presumably affected the 13 million residents of Los Angeles, Gorak zeroes in with a laser-pointed sight on just two people and the one big question they must face: Should Brad open the door?

We're with Brad for the whole film, watching from his point of view -- a limited one that only gets smaller as the events go on. Heroically, Brad tries to drive into the chaos to save Lexi when he can't get ahold of her on the cell phone. From his neighborhood in Echo Park, he can see downtown Los Angeles, along with neighbors rushing into the hardware store and trying to locate loved ones.

Quickly, though, the local police shut down streets one-by-one and corral people into their houses -- sometimes violently -- and Brad returns home, where he's marooned for the rest of the film. It's established in one of the earliest scenes that the couple has not yet set up the cable in the house; the only source of information comes from the radio. (Gorak explains that, in addition to the shooting script, he wrote a separate 55-page script of radio dialogue, which he mixes in and out of the main action as it is necessary.) Even the house starts to close in on him, as throughout the movie he has to seal off certain rooms once they become contaminated.

Then again, there are hints that Brad is imprisoned in the house even before the disaster. In the opening, it's made clear that Lexi and Brad live counter to traditional gender roles. They wake up in the morning, and he fixes her coffee and runs the shower for her while she dresses in a suit and heads to a high-stress job downtown. His profession -- a musician, so not totally emasculating -- allows him to work from home. Still, on her way out, she asks him with a little bit of edge in her voice if he would mind picking up her dry cleaning.

It's these roles that get frozen and magnified through the looming tragedy, and so the major question of the film seems to shift: Who is the one that's really trapped in this situation? Is Lexi locked out of the house, or is Brad locked in it?

After the film, there are weighty clues as to these answers, but none that Gorak addresses in the film's special features, which include a commentary track and one long interview broken into different segments that covers much of the same information. Instead, he focuses on the nitty-gritty of the film's production: the sound design, the location scouting, the casting, the extra radio script, and so on. One particularly interesting extra, however, features the script pages for two of the three alternate endings that add some perspective to Brad's sorry plight.

While Brad has to deal with his diminishing sphere of influence, Lexi undergoes her own journey outside the house -- one that's not as compelling nor as believable as Brad's. Upon discovering that she's been exposed to toxins and thus denied access to her home (while the handyman is safe inside, no less), Lexi's reaction is sheer selfishness. She starts shrieking and running around the house trying to find an unlocked door, apparently callous to the fact that her entry would be a death sentence to Brad and Alvaro. Her reaction to this: "You'd want to live without me?" she asks, obviously annoyed. (Brad's not without his selfish moments, either, as in one part where he tells Alvaro to "stop sucking my oxygen and get out of my house.")

Eventually, though, her thoughts turn outward, but in an illogical order. She helps strangers evade the police and army -- who, in full hazmat suits, look truly alien and quite horrifying -- and leads them to try and find medicine. Only after aiding these strangers does she consider her family, calling her brother and finally telling Brad, "I'm glad you're safe." In this way, she is the opposite of Brad, at first longing for her own safety before appreciating his, while he risked himself to drive downtown to save her.

Yet the one thing that Gorak makes absolutely clear in that, for all of the talking and painful back-and-forth between Brad and Lexi, neither of them were ever truly safe -- and, at any given moment, neither are we.

6

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

Next Page
Related Articles Around the Web

Melkbelly splices insanely supercharged punk energy with noise-band drums and super catchy pop melodies. It's a bewildering, intoxicating sound which has caught the attention of underground Chicago audiences. We ask singer Miranda Winters how it works.

"I've always, I guess, struggled to decide what kind of music I wanted to play, something sort of abrasive and loud or something sort of pop and folky. I would bounce back and forth between the two," says Miranda Winters, the dynamic singer who careens between pretty girl pop croons and banshee wails in the course of, really, almost any song in the Melkbelly catalog. "When we first started Melkbelly, the goal was to figure out how to make them work together, but I don't know that we actually knew that it would work when we started."

Keep reading... Show less

Talay's new tune will win points with those not shy of expressing their holiday joy with four-letter cusses.

Most Decembers, I don't get super excited by the prospect of sitting down and preparing a bunch of holiday cards for mailing. And I certainly do my best to avoid venturing anywhere in the vicinity of SantaCon, the bar crawl for a North Pole-themed mob. But for those who like their eggnog with a little extra something, the new tune from Talay may become your new rallying cry.

Keep reading... Show less
Music

Fever Ray: Plunge

Photo courtesy of Rabid Records

Returning eight years after her solo debut as Fever Ray, Karin Dreijer extends the sonic identity of her project, thriving in the chaos and disorientation that her electric visions produce.

The solo project of Karin Dreijer (one half of the excellent electronic duo the Knife) could not arrive at a better time. With the Knife no longer active, and eight years having pass since her debut record under the Fever Ray moniker, Dreijer revisits many of the stylistic intricacies inherent in the Knife's DNA, while further evolving her take on Fever Ray.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image