I stumbled across a more recent movie in one of my streaming options called Doors. It had a recognizable face on the poster – Josh Peck – and it looked interesting. The trailer pretty much told the story and after watching it, I got a little more inspiration but honestly, you probably can get all the inspiration you need out of the trailer. It is a creepy sci-fi horror story with some apocalyptic as well as invasion themes, set in modern Earth.
The movie is basically four vignettes that focus on events during the epic and apocalyptic arrival of strange monoliths all over the world. Millions of mysterious alien portals, dubbed Doors by the populous, appear randomly throughout the planet. They vary in size and location but just sit there, looking ominous. The visual effects of the door coupled with some fantastic sound effects really make the Doors seem ominous and really freaky.
These Doors are held responsible for the disappearances of millions as people throughout the movie feel this sudden urge to go to to these doors. As soon as they do, they vanish. At first, you are not entirely sure where they go and I am not entirely sure they totally answered that question in the movie.
While the vignettes are interesting, the characters are somewhat formulaic and cardboard. What is most interesting is the Doors themselves and it is what I found most interesting through out the film. So my Inspiration will focus on the Doors and nothing else.
The first vignette – Day 01: Lockdown – is the story of a group of teens in high school about to take a test or something on the day of the arrival of these doors. It’s fairly tropey in it’s own way because this scenario can easily be played out in some zombie apocalypse story too. You encounter the first door in the movie which blocks the path of the teens’ only way out (I can’t imagine a high school with only one way out, but whatever). Here, we are introduced to the strange seduction powers of the door. Not only does it entice people to “come inside” but it also incites violence among the teens. It has this strange almost electronic growling sound as well as these tiny tendrils all along the surface that call to it’s victims.
In between each vignette, the audio of a podcaster overlays various scenes of empty cities and quiet streets. This gives you a little more story. Many millions of people are disappearing through the doors and the world is changing. We learn that some actually return after some time, changed in some way. It’s not clear how they return or when or how many, but it is clear they are not the same. Also scientists have been volunteering to go inside the Doors to study them, and they are dubbed Knockers.
The second story was the most disappointing and one I wish they had done more with. We follow a group of Knockers into a large door that has bisected a random mountain home. These three Knockers are suited up with pretty cool looking enviro-gear to protect them and they are given 12 minutes to go in and come back. They never tell you if any knockers have been successful in returning but it does seem like this was somewhat routine and maybe these three have done it before. I am not sure. Regardless, the group walks into the door and finds an artificial world built around their individual psychologies. It was kind of a lame trope to use, I feel. I did not care enough about these people to understand their individual angsts and troubles. Instead of really diving into the mysteries of the Doors, it just simply gives you sad stories of these three people you just met. And it does not appear they ever made it out.
The third and fourth stories really get into some of the nature of the Doors. First we have a secluded and ostracized scientist who is secretly studying the door. Through out the movie, through the exposition between vignettes that if one spots a Door, they must report it to authorities right away. This guy didn’t and instead, set up a series of electronic devices to try and talk with it. We find out through him or through some between vignette story-telling that each door is different in some way. For some reason, this guy believes that he can talk to this one. And as a matter of fact, he does do that very thing.
In his exchange with his Door, it mentions various intentions that the doors have. We Archive… We will Refresh All of You … This was the pivotal moment that I really found inspiring and pulled me into the mythos of these doors. The short conversations they have with the Door tells us they are alien from some far off world and have a somewhat nefarious purpose. But why? The answer to that question lead me down all kinds of ideas for an RPG adventure or campaign.
The final story takes place in the form of an online interview between a guy who I can only assume is the mysterious podcaster that has been entertaining us throughout the film and a guy who claims to have returned from one of the Doors and is a well known scientist. This gets really freaky and psychedelic as the interviewee appears to be a demented disciple of the doors, calling for everyone to enter. Meanwhile, the interviewer is mentally tortured and seems to be driven to find a door, leaving his house half-naked and in a strange trance.
What fascinated me about this movie was how they built up the mythos of the Doors. I think this easily could be the set up of some epic campaign – in any genre, for that matter. I used to run a RPG called Dark Conspiracy where this would fit perfectly. You can keep it localized for ease of play – making it world-wide may be a little too epic. These doors just appear all over the localized location and the players are asked to investigate. Maybe through some dreams or psychic visions, the players get the sense that these Doors are intelligent and have a purpose. The adventure is to find that purpose and stop it if it’s a threat.
What could they be? A plot by a evil wizard to teleport the people of a kingdom to another dimension in order to take over the land? A plot to capture people for alien experiments and return them as agents of some alien plot? Or maybe they alter their victims in a way to turn them into super-beaings, serving some evil mastermind’s plot. In Dark Conspiracy, I would probably make them portals into a twisted dimension with the intent of turning people into demon-like creatures in a strange mental form of terraforming the area for some psychic based monster (It makes sense if you know the game… sort of).
Either way, I found the Doors cool and I may use them in some one-shot or short campaign at some point.