Nicholas McCarthy is quietly scaring the hell out me. To date, I have sat down with 2 of his films (The Pact and At The Devil’s Door) and had absolutely no expectations and each time I have had both films creep under my skin and set up shop for the days. Now to be fair I was not aware that AtDD was made by the same guy as The Pact ( I know! I must be slipping in my old age!). Had I done my usual internet research (research is what I call going on IMDB to exchange insults and racial slurs with fellow movie lovers) before sitting down with this flick I might have had a general idea of what I was in for.
Leigh (Catalina Sandino Moreno) is a real estate agent who takes on a listing (listing is real estate jargon for house for sale…) from a couple whose daughter ran away years ago. Of course the house has a crazy creepy back story and you bet your ass we get front row seats to this creep-Fest of a house. Some where Leigh’s sister, Vera (Naya Rivera) works into the mix and we learn that this isn’t your standard haunted house story and what is spooking things up is looking for permanent residence… just not in a house.
At the Devil’s Door scared me and that doesn’t happen to often. I’m not talking about jump scares (although it does have those) or just general creeps. AtDD is a film that doesn’t go for the cheap scares, but plays the long game and creates an atmosphere that is thick with trepidation. A scene that had me hiding under my blanket like a piss pants 4 year old involves absolute zero special effects and only shows a dresser door. Not one fucking ghost, demon or visible on screen antagonist and McCarthy was able to give me goosebumps like his name was R.L. Stine. Terrible puns aside, I am not overstating when I say that on more than one occasion this movie had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. It’s days later and I’m still scared to look up from my computer screen and check my closet door.
The real beauty of At the Devils Door is that at it’s core it’s really an anthology. McCarthy is able to weave 3 stories seemlessly into one another with out a dramatic shift it tone. Of course he neatly ties up all the stories at the end and we find out it is one narrative. I really dug this approach and it’s out of the box approaches like this that put McCarthy high up on my list of horror directors to watch out for.
At the Devil’s Door is currently available on VOD and iTunes from IFC Midnight.