Noob Reviews: The Pale Door
Please be advised that during the review, I have tried to avoid a lot of spoilers. However, there may still be a few included helping explain specific points.
What is The Pale Door?
The Pale Door is a western horror that follows Duncan Dalton’s gang of outlaws on their latest misadventure after robbing a heavily guarded train. However, instead of the gold and riches, they thought they would secure from their score, they come across a chained box containing a mysterious girl (named Pearl) who offers them a reward for seeing her safely returned to her family.
Down on their luck and out of pocket after their anticlimactic robbery, the gang begrudgingly agree. Little do the gang members know though, the girl’s hometown of Potemkin has a dark and sinister past, a past that two centuries ago to the day saw a powerful coven of witches attacked. A coven of witches who do not forget, do not forgive and require blood sacrifices to keep them sustained.
What type of genre is the film?
The Pale Door is a western horror with heavy elements of drama.
When was The Pale Door released?
The Pale Door was released in August 2020.
Do you have a trailer to show us?
- The official trailer linked from RLJE Films’ YouTube channel -
Who are some of the actors and actresses that we might know?
For a full cast listing, please see the official IMDB page here.
What did you think of The Pale Door?
The Pale Door is one of the very few films on Shudder that I did not enjoy, and I can not stress this strongly enough, but run. Run far away or if you are cornered in a room with it, kill it with fire. Don’t worry though I will explain that quite dramatic and over the top statement.
The film looks at best like a cheesy horror with equal parts western cheese, yet a fun little romp when watching the trailer. Unfortunately, the trailer has been cut so that most of the film’s best bits are all in that short few minutes trailer. Although the story is quite an interesting one and begins to unfold in weird and wonderful ways, it’s delivery and pacing were very poorly executed. Many of the fight sequences and quite critical parts of the film, are delivered more though the suggestion of something happening off-camera than you actually getting to see what happens. And the ending to the film is essentially a slap across the face for wasting ninety-odd minutes watching up to that point.
Although The Pale Door’s budget was small, the set pieces for the train and outdoors areas were beautiful and really atmospheric, helping increase the chill factor. The town and taverns where the majority of the film takes palace, on the other hand, are all too new and in some ways modern, for the period, breaking the immersion instantly. The coven’s scorched and bloody true forms are also no better. When it comes to the witches’ design and costumes, they are quite mediocre, dull and honestly could have been scarier if they had been taken out of a Goosebumps tale.
Taking the previous points into account, I tried so hard to still like the film or at least find some positive amongst the negatives, but then we come to the acting and the choreography. When it comes to the actors and actresses, the only character I really liked was Dodd. A relatively cold and ruthless gang member who believed in getting the job done but was not afraid to show he was only out for himself when push came to shove. The rest of the cast was rather lacklustre and lacked any real feeling of enthusiasm for their roles. Pearl, for example, apart from a few creepy lines simply stands around sneering. Her mother (Maria) really does not convey the sense of power he seems to think she has. And both the Dalton brothers (Duncan and Jake) just got on my nerves after a while. With regards to the choreography, as I mentioned above, it is not without fault too. The gunfights and fight sequences throughout the film were rather painful to watch as they were slow, clumsy and you could not only see the pulled punches and attacks but when there was some actual action-packed, awe-inspiring moment. Everything happened off-camera. You just had hints or the odd sound to suggest what was going on rather than getting to see them. A prime example of this is Dodd’s death who although been torn apart in a brutal and horrendous manner after a glorious last stand (supposedly) might have well have been getting tickled if his pleas for help were anything to go by.
Admittedly, as I said before, I did try to find elements of the film I liked. Some of the locations, for example, were really atmospheric. There are a few decent one lines thrown into the script. And there is a scene in the film where a gang member’s doubleganger is shot, and they explode into a flock of crows which is fantastically done. But these moments are too few and far between to save the film in my opinion.
If you want something to scratch that western horror itch, might I suggest you check out the Dead in Tombstone films (with Danny Trejo), Bone Tomahawk (with Kurt Russell) or From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter. As you can tell from the title, Hangman’s Daughter is a From Dusk Till Dawn film so has equal measures of western, horror and cheese but it still knows how to bring the entertainment.
What rating would you give The Pale Door?
I would rate The Pale Door as a 1.8 out of 5 bananas.
The Pale Door is a door better left closed. Offering little in entertainment value and even more so in the story, acting and effects, the film really was a disappointment after seeing such an intriguing looking trailer. Alas, in the end, the film was another one where the trailer was just a compilation of all the best bits, and after that, it had little else to offer.
Thank you very much for checking out the review. If you are interested in The Pale Door and would like to check it out, to form your own opinion, you can find it on Blu-Ray, DVD and select streaming platforms like Amazon’s Prime Video and Shudder.