The Other Side of the Door stars Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead) and Jeremy Sisto (Suburgatory) as Maria and Michael, an American expatriate couple living in Mumbai, India with their young daughter Lucy (Sofia Rosinsky) and trying to get over the death of their young son Oliver. But when their Indian housekeeper Piki (Suchitra Pillai-Malik) offers a distraught, near-suicidal Maria a chance to communicate with Oliver one more time – by visiting an abandoned, ancient temple where the spirits of the dead are said to linger – the grieving mother opens a door through which a malevolent entity threatens to enter our world and destroy them all.
Sisto is no stranger to the horror genre, with films like Unknown, Dead & Breakfast and Wrong Turn on his résumé, while producer Alexandre Aja is better known as the director of the remakes of Piranha and The Hills Have Eyes as well as original films like High Tension and adaptations such as Horns. Screen Rant spoke with Aja and Sisto about working in India, why Aja wanted to produce this one and what is the one horror film that both men have problems watching.
Alexandre, what drew you to this story and made you want to produce this film?
Alexandre Aja: I don’t really think as a producer, I think as a moviegoer. So I’m reading scripts – I have that immense chance to receive scripts and be reading them – and sometimes something catches you. The Other Side of the Door was definitely a story that got me, as I started to read, so involved, because as a father I just felt for those characters. I understand the drama; I understand what they were going through. And I couldn’t help but to think about what I would do if I was in their position – would I have opened the door or not? That’s a really good set-up, because it’s all about immersion, it’s all about creating an experience for the viewer. So when you get a script like that, I knew I had to be part of it.
Then my part was to help Johannes (Roberts, director) and to help this group make the movie up and go shoot in India in a place that’s very different from any other places you shoot usually and just make sure we stay faithful to what brings all of us around that script.
Jeremy, you’ve done your fair share of horror movies.
Jeremy Sisto: Yeah, you know, when I heard it was a horror movie, I was expecting something where I’m running away from some creature for two hours, and so I was really excited that I was playing something else for the majority of the film. To me it resonated as a drama. This couple loses a kid, and it’s one of the worst things that can happen to a person, but at the same time it also touched in me some real deep fears. It kind of uses India and the depth of their relationship with death and spirituality in a way that creates a really lasting, haunting impression.
Did you and Sarah talk at all about channeling that particular kind of grief?
Sisto: A little bit. We shared a couple of things. I remember there were a few takes, maybe four takes in, where I couldn’t imagine it any more, I didn’t want to imagine it because it’s the last thing you want to think about really. I told her and she was like, “Yeah, I have that around take four, take five too.” So we connected on it, but as an actor you’re sort of approaching it in your own way and you don’t want to get in any other actor’s – you don’t want to obstruct them from how they need to get at the truth of it.
What were the challenges of working in Mumbai and was there overlap between your film crew and the Bollywood film culture?
Aja: The whole crew was Indian. We were just a few coming from England and Europe and America – and France – and we were really just…it was mostly an Indian crew that usually works on a big Bollywood movie. And it’s a different way of working. Organized chaos, which is a really spectacular way of – you can get really anxious as a foreigner, like, “Is it going to happen? Are we going to get a set?” And then everything is magically built and raised and it’s beautiful and it’s great. They’re super-talented, they’re really so talented. It was a unique experience as a filmmaker, for sure, to be there, to shoot, to use that country, because wherever you put the camera, it’s stunning.
You both have a lot of experience with the horror genre. Is there one horror movie that you just cannot watch or shy away from because it makes you too uncomfortable?
Aja: I had one, by accident I watched The Shining very early on in my life – like age 5 or 6 – and it kind of really traumatized me. It took me a few years before I could watch it. It’s become one of my favorite movies now, but it’s very hard, you know, when you’re making these movies and you’re reading so many scripts, to be very – I mean, the last one, I will say, was Antichrist. Antichrist I had to stop watching. I was like, ‘This is too much.” I couldn’t take it. That was really traumatic.
Sisto: You know what I was thinking about when I was watching this movie, it’s got some Rosemary’s Baby stuff going on. It’s very eloquent in a way and that’s a freaky movie.
Sisto: Yeah, character-driven but still fun in its own, you know, as dark as it is and as deep as these subjects are, I really hope that the audience knows it’s a fun horror film.
The Other Side of the Door is now playing in theaters.