Review: Shutter the Doors

Written and directed by Sheri Sussman, captures a moment in time in a man’s life as he deals with an unimaginable loss. Starring: Ian Buchanan and Billy Wirth.

Unquestionably, there are infinite ways to explore loss, it’s a different experience for everyone who goes through it and can involve a myriad of things but Shutter the Doors doesn’t feel like it sets itself apart from what we’ve seen before. It opens on a typical man detailing his troubles to a bartender, and because it’s trying to not give too much away quickly, the conversation is vague. The fairly predictable tone to the dialogue means that it struggles to build up much sincere emotion, there is some there but it’s basic. However, the story does touch upon a relevant topic of how landmarks and places of historical value are losing their importance in today’s world. Living in a society that constantly looks forward can make it hard to conserve the past, resulting in the loss of culturally significant sites.

Bars are a classic example of that, playing host to musicians that have shaped the world of music, and it also makes for a great place to set a film. However, here the filmmakers miss out on making full use of the setting to add a little grit or texture to its aesthetic. It’s a great place to shoot to add a superb amount of detail and a feel of history but the look is slightly too clean or bright. It’s hindered by a chunk of the direction and editing simply taking on a back and forth style, which can come across stiff. When the shots do use more of the space, you can see what they’re missing out on, and that potentially adding some movement could have given breathing room for the emotion to grow. In a purely technical sense, it’s shot well but the style lacks a bigger personality or individuality.

Although, there’s a gap to be filled of explaining the significance of the place it’s trying to revere, so by choosing to focus solely on the emotional impact, it loses the potential to connect more strongly to the audience. It’s a classic challenge of short film, where to put your focus to get everything across in a brief time but it feels as though another element was needed to push it further. The choice to also exist in such a quiet atmosphere is a tricky one, on one hand it does typically work well to let the emotion speak for itself, but with the dialogue being fairly familiar or simple, it makes that increasingly plain. Unfortunately, the performances similarly come across as stereotypical, so they struggle to bring a genuine level of emotion. Nevertheless, Ian Buchanan and Billy Wirth do create a nice connection between the two of them, quickly establishing a shared history and friendship.

Shutter the Doors touches upon the importance of conserving places of historical and cultural significance, and how that can fall by the wayside in a world obsessed with seeking out the new. It’s shot well, in a great location but is missing out on an individual style or personality. There are emotions at work but they can’t break out of a basic box, struggling to make a more memorable connection with its audience.

Verdict: ✯✯½ | 5/10

Showing at FirstGlance Film Festival on 14 May

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