Home is where the apart is

Right at Your Door

The onscreen terrorist attack is by now as mechanized a movie plot point in “issues” films as the last-reel mad dash to the airport/altar is in romantic comedies. But whether it’s a severe docudrama like United 93 or a hack job like Next, the focus usually is on the heroes racing against the clock to prevent the attack, not on the helpless masses huddling in fear.

Chris Gorak’s Right at Your Door takes a very personal approach to the terrorist attack trope, tracking the effects on one fractured Los Angeles household. After a mundane morning of seeing his wife (Mary McCormack) off to work (and unsuccessfully attempting to wheedle sex out of her), everyman Brad (Rory Cochrane) hears that several “dirty bombs” have been exploded downtown, polluting the air with toxic ash.

Brad makes a halfhearted attempt to rescue his wife, but is quickly directed home by the military and the police. He is ordered to seal himself inside, eschewing contact with the outside atmosphere and anyone exposed to it. But when his wife returns home, does he risk exposing himself by letting her inside or wait for medical help that may never arrive?

The set design is a key element to Right at Your Door, and former production designer and first-time writer-director Gorak is perfectly suited to the material. As the house becomes a patchwork maze of duct tape and sheets of plastic, we see how government-sponsored fearmongering has the potential to turn us into manic obsessives to the point that we sequester ourselves from the people we love.

Not everything works in Right at Your Door—it drags a bit in the middle, and the performances are serviceable rather than transcendent. Still, it all leads to a neat little twist, and the special effects and production design are extremely convincing, especially given the shoestring budget.