DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main

Aaron B. Koontz
Melora Walters, Zachary Knighton, Noah Segan
Aaron B. Koontz, Cameron Burns

After a train robbery goes bad, two brothers leading a gang of cowboys must survive the night in a ghost town inhabited by a coven of witches.
Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 96 min.
Price: $28.97
Release Date: 10/6/2020

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Aaron B. Koontz and Writer Cameron Burns
• “Making The Pale Door” Featurette
• “Editing The Pale Door” Featurette


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Pale Door [Blu-Ray] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 1, 2020)

Genres collide via 2020’s The Pale Door. With this effort, we get a mix of horror and Western.

When the Dalton gang attempts a train robbery, it doesn’t go as planned. This leaves leader Duncan Dalton (Zachary Knighton) severely wounded.

The crew seeks aid in a local town that appears largely deserted, but to their surprise, they find themselves welcomed by the caring inhabitants of a brothel. However, it turns out these women lead a coven of witches, and they have their own plans for the outlaws.

That’s what we call a “big plot twist”. Indeed, the movie offers such a curveball that I felt tempted to leave it out of my synopsis.

However, the “bank robbers vs. witches” theme exists as a selling point for the movie, so it can’t be called a true spoiler. When the promo material makes this story point obvious, I think it’s fair game.

This quirky narrative choice ends up as the most interesting aspect of Door. Unfortunately, the movie itself can’t live up to the nutty potential of its concept.

For the film’s first 40 minutes or so, Door plays as a standard Western, and not an especially interesting one at that. We meet the colorful band of characters and develop a semblance of a plot before the outlaws encounter a surprise onboard the train about 25 minutes into the tale.

This first act with the Dalton gang tends to feel stale and dull. All the characters seem cliché and perfunctory, and nothing the story adds expands them in an interesting way.

The discovery on the train threatens to enliven matters, as it brings a sense of ominous mystery to the movie. From there, as we head to the brothel, Pale threatens to develop into something more intriguing.

And it does for a brief period, mainly related to the women of the brothel. We get a moderately compelling take on their situation that offers a brief spurt of momentum.

Alas, it doesn’t last long, as the rest of the film seems stuck in neutral. Door alternates lackluster stabs at horror with dull character drama, and these elements fail to connect.

It doesn’t help that Door comes with “protagonists” who seem like fairly awful people. Sure, the film attempts to make the bandits seem noble, but it fails. They rob and kill – while they may care for each other, it seems tough for the audience to worry about them since they show such disdain for the lives of strangers.

On the other hand, Door gives us good reason to feel sympathy for the witches, as they came to their circumstance via true tragedy. When we see insights into their pasts, we learn that they suffered true injustice.

Yet Door appears to want us to feel bad for the Dalton gang and dislike the witches. Unless the movie comes with some ironic social commentary I missed, this seems like a bad choice and it doesn’t work. When the outlaws suffer, we don’t encounter any sense of loss or sadness because they’re bad people.

The filmmakers seem infatuated with long, dull scenes in which the Dalton gang members wax poetic about their love for each other and whatnot. This seems odd for a story of this sort, and it leaves the flick with bizarre pretensions of artistic greatness.

Face it: people watch a movie like this for some action and terror. No one wants to watch bandits mope about their lives.

It doesn’t help that Door feels slow and muddled most of the time. It lacks coherence and positive momentum, so we find ourselves with pacing that never becomes consistent and a story that simply fails to find its way.

Somewhere buried in this mess, the potential for a good movie exists. Unfortunately, Door fails to make use of its positives.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

The Pale Door appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a generally positive presentation.

Sharpness became the weakest factor. While the image usually looked concise, a few perplexing instances of softness materialized, and those caused distractions.

No jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent.

Colors went with an arid amber feel to suit the Western motif, though we got some teal-influenced blues as well. These didn’t shine but they seemed more than adequate.

Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows offered reasonable clarity. Outside of the sporadic softness, this became a good image.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it seemed fine as well. Speech usually appeared fairly natural, and they lacked edginess or issues with intelligibility.

Music felt bright and lively, while effects came across as accurate. The mix came with mostly good range and depth.

The soundscape opened up matters in a moderate manner, but it didn’t really impress. The five channels broadened the material in a fairly engaging manner, though not one that appeared especially active.

Still, the track used the speakers in a mostly positive way. Overall, this was a satisfactory mix.

A few extras appear here, and we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Aaron B. Koontz and writer Cameron Burns. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, costumes and period details, music, effects, and related areas.

Overall, this becomes a fairly efficient commentary. It gives us the requisite details and some compelling revelations like the way to movie reflects Koontz’s family relationships. Expect a pretty solid chat.

The Making of The Pale Door spans 14 minutes, 14 seconds and features Koontz, Burns and cinematographer Andrew Baird. They cover the film’s origins and development, story/characters, influences and photography, budgetary limitations and various challenges, cast and performances, and other technical areas.

Some of this repeats from the commentary, and much of the rest revolves around praise and self-congratulation. “Making” comes with a few decent thoughts but it disappoints.

Finally, Editing The Pale Door goes for three minutes, two seconds and includes notes from Koontz and editor Greg MacLennan. As expected, we get a few thoughts about the movie’s post-production. While brief, we find a couple useful notes.

Silly as it may sound, “bandits vs. witches” sounds like a potentially fun premise. Unfortunately, The Pale Door suffers from too many dramatic pretensions and too little excitement to succeed. The Blu-ray comes with generally positive picture and audio as well as a few bonus materials. This winds up as a dull mashup of genres.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main