From the team that brought you V/H/S, Sea Fever and Becky, Portal (FKA Doors) is a collection of four separate stories, from four different directors, but all related to the same worldwide event. That event is the arrival of a number of mysterious alien “doors” that suddenly appear around the globe and follows our attempts at trying to discover what they are, where they lead and if we can, or even should, attempt to cross to the other side of them.
The first story, titled ‘Lockdown’, takes place on day 1. As students sit in detention, with their mobile phones locked in a cupboard by the supervising teacher at the front of their classroom, the phones all suddenly start to vibrate repeatedly. Police cars and helicopters can be heard outside while shadows of people can be seen running past the frosted windows of the classroom. The teacher gets a call and leaves the classroom, and then an announcement comes over the tannoy instructing everyone to remain inside. Obviously, the students take no notice and head down a corridor only to find a large black mass filling the corridor. If you’ve ever put iron filings onto a piece of paper and moved a magnet underneath the paper to watch them move and dance in unison, then that’s what they look like.
As we move towards our second story, a radio broadcaster talks about how millions of these ‘Doors’ have started appearing. Millions of people are missing after entering these doors, although some have returned. 15 days later, and a worldwide study into the doors has launched. Research units, called ‘Knockers’ (an absolutely ridiculous name) are entering the doors to learn more. They are only allowed inside for 12 minutes in order to avoid permanent psychosis and nothing from inside the doors is allowed to leave.
In ‘Lamaj’, we’ve now reached day 101. A man named Jamal has discovered a door in the forest near where he lives but hasn’t yet reported it to the authorities for investigation. Instead, he has set up monitoring and communication equipment and is attempting to talk to whatever the door is. With some success, he learns that the doors are here to archive humanity and it is time to refresh.
There’s an interesting ‘Arrival’ feel to the two middle stories, as the human race tries to understand what exactly the visitors are and what are their intentions. Although, the running theme with all of the stories in Portal is that they end just at the point where we start to get to know our characters. And at the point where things are just about to get interesting.
I haven’t even mentioned the final story yet. The one aspect of the movie that needed to work the most is its ending, the part which needs to wrap things up nicely somehow. And it turns out to be the one part that lets it down the most. The acting throughout Portal is a little bit ropey at the best of times, something which often affected my enjoyment and completely took me out of the story, but none more so than in the final segment. A great concept, poorly delivered.
Signature Entertainment presents Portal on Digital Platforms and DVD 19th April
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