Beyond the Seventh Door (1987)

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Recently released ex-con Boris swears he’s ready to turn his life around. Only one problem: he’s dead-ass broke. He’s convinced that all he needs is one more heist before he can truly get started. So he calls up his ex-girlfriend Wendy to help him out. Turns out Wendy works for the parapaligic millionaire, Lord Breston. Breston lives in a huge castle, and rumour has it that hidden somewhere on the gigantic estate is some sort of treasure. Boris can’t seem to pass up this seemingly golden opportunity, and convinces Wendy to obtain the necessary keys and passcodes that he’s sure will make his job a cinch.

When the day finally comes, everything is looking up. Boris and Wendy make it into the mansion through a back door without any problems. But two rooms in, the door shuts and locks behind them, trapping them inside. Then they hear Lord Breston speaking to them through a PA system. Breston, it turns out, is no dummy. He’s fully aware of the allure his supposed ‘treasure’ has on the unscrupulous, so he’s hidden it behind a series of seven doors. His little intruders are welcome to it, assuming they survive the traps he’s laid out long enough to make it that far.

beyond_seventh_door_2You know you’ve made it when you can add ‘spike room’ to your list of household amenities.

Beyond the Seventh Door is an extremely low-budget (read: no budget), independent, Canadian horror film, written and directed by a Yugoslovian immigrant, and stars another Yugoslovian immigrant with little charisma and a questionable grasp of the English language. 

Yet despite all that, the whole thing still ends up being compelling and, dare I say, entertaining.

Don’t get me wrong. The plot – which predates Cube and Saw by eleven years – is pretty ludicrous, as is the ending, but the whole thing still manages to be charming, even with its many flaws.

beyond_seventh_door_3I know, I was shocked too.

Simultaneously it’s biggest draw, and drawback, is Lazar Rockwood’s Boris. Once Boris and Wendy get locked in their deadly little puzzle-maze, the film is little more than the two of them trying to navigate their way to the goal. Thus, the bulk of the film’s success, and in turn the viewer’s enjoyment, rests on the shoulders of the two main actors.

Bonnie Beck, who plays Wendy, is clearly the more competent of the two. By this point she’d already had a couple of other horror films under her belt and knew what she was doing. Even with her complete lack of chemistry with Rockwood and the film’s cringe-worthy dialogue, she does a bang-up job, especially when you consider that her main role in the script essentially boils down to the cocktail dress clad, stocking wearing, eye-candy of the film.

beyond_seventh_door_4I’ve never seen a woman thirst so much for a man.

Rockwood, by contrast, grinds out each and every line of dialogue as if he’s being physically made to do this against his will. It doesn’t help that he is horribly uncharismatic…or that he emotes with the enthusiasm of a robot…or that he seems to have a questionable grasp of the English language…. Or really just a questionable grasp of acting in general. He improvises unnecessarily, yells “NOOO!”  a lot, and seems to sporadically forget that the doors to the rooms they’ve previously passed through have locked behind them. Having seen an episode or two of Witchblade, in which he had a recurring role, it becomes apparent to me that Rockwood is more suited for character roles than he is for starring ones. Granted, it couldn’t have helped to have been forced to work with lines like this:

Wendy: Face it Boris, you’re not even a good thief!

Boris: I’m getting better. *He says with all the conviction of a man debating what toppings he wants on his pizza.*

But everything comes across so dull and forced that it’s just hysterical to watch each horrible line-reading. Which is why he is both the best and worst thing about this movie.

beyond_seventh_door_5Wait wait wait… THIS is the guy she’s thirsting for? No, movie, I cannot accept this.

As for the plot, it’s actually pretty good. The problem is that it’s way too ambitious for the budget the film had to work with. The result is that a lot of the sets don’t really feel genuine. While a lot of the set pieces and rooms look nice, decent even, most of them look so different that they also don’t look like they belong in the same movie. That said, the collection of slapped together sets and (presumably) found basements shows a lot of imagination and the film does manage to offer some moments of actual tension, brief and poorly acted as they often are.

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Boris ass. You’re welcome.

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So is Beyond the Seventh Door any good? Not really, no. But it is entertaining. The plot’s great, but the meager budget means it doesn’t translate well on screen. Most of the acting is either over exaggerated or under exaggerated, and some viewers will likely struggle understanding much of the lead actors lines. Not that much of the script is worth listening to anyway. That said, the film does have a lot of heart, and you can tell that they were at least trying to make something entertaining. I think they succeeded, though likely not in the ways they intentioned. If you like low-budget indy films, than this might be something you’ll find interesting. At the very least, you’ll likely get some enjoyment out of the lead’s terrible acting.

Beyond the Seventh Door is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

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Michi

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