As a self-proclaimed H. P. Lovecraft devotee, I try to snatch up every film adaptation I can of his works. I have not personally read everything he has written, however I can state with a smug smile I have read much of it. Therefore, every time a filmmaker tries to adapt his work, I have to check it out to see how well it follows the actual story, and also to see if the filmmaker does the story justice. I’m very happy to report director Tom Gliserman’s adaptation of THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP is a fairly accurate and engaging film that horror fans should enjoy.
If you are not familiar with THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of MVD Visual:
A new psychological horror film based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft. Daniel Upton’s relationship with his friend Edward Derby is abruptly changed after Edward becomes romantically involved with enigmatic hypnotist, Asenath Waite. As Edward’s behavior becomes more erratic and events unexplainable, Daniel investigates. Is it madness…or something far more terrifying? “It is true that I have just sent six bullets through the head of my best friend, and yet I hope to show by this statement that I am not his murderer.”
This is a low-budget film, so don’t expect a Michael Bay-sized production, but the filmmakers do a great job utilizing the money they have. The film is a true testament to what heart and determination can bring forth when funds are low.
THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP looks decent onscreen, although the cinematography is lacking a bit and the picture quality looks cheap. The scene gets very grainy when light levels are low, which sometimes becomes too much for the story to overcome. If better lighting had been used or even a better lens, the results would have been drastically better. Still, the sound quality is solid, so that makes up for a lot.
The acting is pretty good, too, especially for a low-budget film. The cast is pretty solid overall, particularly David Bunce, who plays Daniel. Bunce has several credits on his IMDB page, however I am not familiar with any of them. Regardless, he does a good job here, and I hope to see him in future projects.
The special effects are average, but they don’t play too much of a role here. THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP prides itself on suspense and intrigue over splatter-shock or gore. And it works. The mystery of what Edward is going through carries the story, and the result is an enthralling thriller that you won’t want to miss.
I have to hand it to director Gliserman: he does a good job with this adaptation. Sure, there are little differences, such as the movie-Daniel naming his son William, after Edward’s father, whereas in the actual story, he’s named Edward…but these are minor nuances that don’t affect the end result. My sole complaint about the story is that it is set in modern times, when it would have been so much more effective to set it in its proper time period (back in the early 1900s). This is nothing that detracts from the film itself, but more of a personal preference.
THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP is a big win for me, and I suggest horror fans check it out. If you are not familiar with Lovecraft’s work, you should read the short story before seeing the film; it might help shape your perception for what you are about to watch. THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP is available now in a variety of formats.