Don't Open the Door (1974)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Texan S.F. Brownrigg directed this uncomfortable little thriller after the drive-in success of his more outrageous Don't Look in the Basement!, which explains the title choice. It's not a sequel, but several cast members return and the vibe is equally sweaty and claustrophobic. While there are horror elements at work, Don't Open the Door! isn't after the sheer overkill of its predecessor. Instead, a festering creepiness is sustained throughout, and the mood is established right away with a credit sequence that fixates on the facial expressions of a collection of baby dolls (later a doll figures into the reason for the psychotic's obsession with Amanda). Faces are certainly what Brownrigg is interested in, as a great deal of the film is shot in extreme close-up, bringing the audience in close for furrowed brows, frightened eyes, and flop sweat. Luckily, all of the actors are good enough to deserve this kind of scrutiny, and the result is often intense. When the bodies do start dropping, Brownrigg turns up the sensory overload with crashing cymbals and cross-dressing, giving the sleaze fans what they came for while still crafting something very weird and unique. The budget is low and the pace is deliberate, but Don't Open the Door! pays off big with a demented aura and an artful display of small town savagery.