Any cinema goer will know that Sarah Wayne Callies’ (The Walking Dead) grieving mother should follow instructions given to her by her housemaid, and they’ll also know that she won’t.
Callies plays Maria, an expat living with her antique-dealer husband Michael (Jeremy Sisto) and their young daughter Lucy (Sofia Rosinsky) in India, and she’s struggling and failing to live with the grief and guilt following the death of her son Oliver (Logan Creran). After she tries to do something drastic, Piki tells her that if she goes to a certain temple she’ll be able to speak to her son again. There’s just one hard and fast rule: don’t open the door.
The essential setup is shop-worn but director Johannes Roberts makes the most of his Indian setting. There are a couple of instances where it threatens to veer into ‘exotic mysticism’, but for the most part the focus is squarely on Maria and the consequences she faces for opening the bloody door.
Callies has always felt like an actor in need of a good showcase, and it’s great to see her step into a leading role. It doesn’t flinch from showing the extent of her guilt and depression, and Callies definitely rises to the challenge, keeping us invested in Maria’s struggle and making sure that we’re still on her side once she starts making some questionable decisions around the halfway point. Sisto (Six Feet Under) gives solid support as her husband, but it’s really her show.
As it progresses onto the consequences, we enter familiar territory, but Roberts shows he’s capable of constructing a good scare outside of claustrophobic confines of a school building or a storage unit, with some of the most unnerving sequences coming during the bright light of day.
It putters along through the story notes that you’d expect, but strong performances and direction make for a solid ghost story.