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1 review, 2 user ratings

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Beyond the Door 2
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by Jay Seaver

"Just your average Oedipal ghost story."
3 stars

"Beyond The Door II", also known as "Shock", has the title of a sequel (at least in America) and relies heavily on prior events. Knowledge of these prior events is not a necessity, though, and that's good - this is a thematically linked if not makeshift series about haunted houses rather than one where characters carry over. I'm not even sure knowing the history beforehand would help, rather than kill suspense.

Dora Baldini (Daria Nicolodi) and her husband Bruno (John Steiner) are moving back into Dora's family home. Bruno is Dora's second husband; her first died several years back, although no body was found; the house has been shut up ever since. Not surprising she wanted nothing to do with the place; he and Dora did a lot of drugs back then, and she can't remember the exact circumstances of his death. Son Marco (David Colin Jr.) was a product of that first marriage, and though Marco is fond of his stepfather, he's still not "Dad". Since Bruno is an airline pilot, Dora and Marco have a lot of time alone at the house, with its spooky basement and new imaginary friend for Marco.

If we have learned anything from the movies, it's that a new imaginary friend for your kid when you move to a new home is a pretty clear warning sign to get the heck out while you've still got all your blood. Even if that ghost is friendly, there are probably others whose intentions aren't quite so benign. This one certainly isn't; either through influence or straight-out possession, it's having an unsettling effect on Marco, who is not only starting to practice some basic thaumaturgy, but is starting to look at his mother in a way that sons generally don't.

That's the special hook of Beyond the Door II; as many creepy kids as the movies have given us, one who is this obviously Oedipal at such a young age (about six) is fairly unique. It's especially disconcerting because non-possessed Marco is a really insufferable movie kid - in the English dub, he pours the replacing "R" and "L" with "W" on really thick, always does the "what'd you bwing me?" when Bruno returns home from a trans-Atlantic flight, doesn't heed his mother... That sort of thing. He also maintains a pretty juvenile expression when he's doing things like walking into the bathroom while his mother is showering, so we're not sure how possessed he is at any time.

I probably wouldn't give the young actor a whole lot of credit for that; it seems more like a case of director Mario Bava seeing what he was getting from the kid and deciding to work with it rather than trying to convince the audience that they should be seeing something else. Bava's not quite as good as his reputation here, but he does decent-enough work with what's available. Except for a few scenes, the whole movie takes place in the house, which is too open to ever become really scary on its own, and there are too few characters for the four credited writers to come up with a strong backstory to explain the haunting. He really seems to relish going down to the basement, which is dark and crowded with discarded furniture and has spots which could hide secrets. There, he gets to play and flex his ghost story muscles.

Otherwise, it's kind of slow going. Daria Nicolodi plays her part well enough, making Dora's fragility believable. John Steiner and Ivan Rassimov are kind of wallpapery as her husband and therapist, respectively. We see just enough of Nicola Salerno in flashback as Dora's late husband to get the impression that, no, we probably wouldn't want him haunting us.

This isn't a bad ghost story, and Bava's got enough talent with the camera to make it watchable. Aside from the particular way in which the kid is unnerving, though, it doesn't have much to make it stand out from the crowd, either.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=3769&reviewer=371
originally posted: 06/12/07 19:55:15
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User Comments

6/26/11 art A SUPER GHOST STORY,gives the first BEYONd T he Door a run for the money! 4 stars
4/07/08 mr.mike Dopey posession story , with little gore or suspense. 2 stars
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  02-Aug-1977 (R)



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