The image of ash falling from the sky is immediately arresting; the quiet terror it evokes, inherent and inescapable. Writer-director Chris Gorak doesn’t deserve any credit for that. He does, however, deserve credit for trusting that such quiet terror will be enough to give his thriller, Right at Your Door, the tension it needs to hold our nerves taut for ninety-six minutes. Someone else might have thrown in screaming crowds, explosions, and crashing cars, but such standard action material could have been brushed away. The ash—along with distant plumes of black smoke and a few dead birds—lingers in the mind, a signifier of once-unimaginable horror we now conjure up all too easily and vividly.
Right at Your Door plays on those fears, but it’s not cheap. It deserves credit for that, for sidestepping exploitation in favor of something more thoughtful and emotionally true, but I can’t say I enjoyed it, exactly. It feels like a cautionary tale, vaguely pedantic, earnestly warning me about dangers I acknowledge but on which I don’t want to dwell.