Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
There is a central problem with Right at Your Door (Netflix, Amazon Prime) that has nothing to do with the movie itself but could nonetheless ruin your enjoyment of it. LUCKY YOU, it is totally fixable in advance. The movie, at least according to its Netflix description, is about what happens when L.A. is hit with the dreaded DIRTY BOMB. That’s right, the dirty bomb, not long ago the favorite bogeyman of ill-informed, paranoid wackos everywhere. While a bomb of any kind is terrifying (except photo bombs and sex bombs, which aren’t so bad) a dirty bomb is A) mostly theoretical and B) virtually harmless. In essence it’s a device that emits harmful radiation without requiring as much fissile material as you’d need to build an actual nuke. It would – again, in theory – be easier to construct and easier to smuggle into a city. The drawback (for would-be terrorists, at least) is that even prolonged exposure right next to the bomb as it was going off wouldn’t cause much if any irreversible harm to humans.
HOWEVER. The bomb in Right at Your Door is not a dirty bomb. Whatever Netflix intern is charged with writing out blurbs for straight-to-VOD movies failed to notice the film’s conscious decision to have all the newscasters call the attack a dirty bomb. They’re just reacting to a breaking situation before all the facts are known. In reality the attack unleashes something toxic and vaguely viral, which is carried in the smoke from the fires that started when the bombs went off. So in reality this movie is fairly well removed from the inflated propaganda of a dirty bomb, which is good because as we discussed, dirty bombs are weak shit. Don’t be fooled like the Netflix intern was and you will like this movie a hell of a lot more.
Right at Your Door puts a regular guy into an extreme situation, prompting viewers to ask themselves, “What would I do if that was me?” Many such characters make ludicrous choices, overreacting so violently and illogically that they destroy any audience empathy. I love The Mist for its monsters and its sense of Lovecraftian dread but that movie loses a ton of credibility when most of its characters inexplicably start a sacrificial cult after about two days of isolation. Right at Your Door manages to walk a more or less reasonable path. Even if you wouldn’t make the same choices – or at least, you hope you wouldn’t – it’s hard to fault the characters who do.
Added bonus: You have to respect the set design here, even though it’s really just a carefully chosen house. The hillside suburban residence our protagonist finds himself in happens to have, like many homes in warm climates, a lot of additional entrances. A sliding glass door in the bedroom, a kitchen door to the back porch, an office with its own entrance, etc. Upon hearing that he has to seal the house up to protect himself, our man initially covers all those doors with plastic. As the need to interact with the outside world increases, however, he’s forced to create makeshift, single-use airlocks out of rooms that have their own means of egress. In addition to being totally sensible, this has the effect of steadily narrowing this man’s world and enhancing the sense of claustrophobia. It also has the effect of making me realize to my horror that my tiny apartment is utterly devoid of airlockable rooms.