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Review: Shudder’s ‘The Pale Door’

The Pale Door

Tag Line:It was the perfect score but hell was their reward.
Release Date:2020
Director:Aaron B. Koontz.
Producers:Cameron Burns , Giles Daoust, Roman Dent, Catherine Dumonceaux, Alex Euting, Tyler Gould, Matthew Helderman, Aaron B. Koontz, Joe R. Lansdale, Chris Nevan, James Norrie, Bill Sage, Ashleigh Snead, Shawn Talley, Luke Taylor and Matt Thomas.
Writers:Cameron Burns , Aaron B. Koontz and Keith Lansdale.
Cast:Melora Walters, Zachary Knighton, Stan Shaw, Pat Healy, Noah Segan, Bill Sage, Natasha Bassett, James Landry Hébert, Devin Druid, Tina Parker and Alexandra Harris.
Running Time:1 hour and 36 minutes.

Shudder viewers are getting a double shot of fillmmaker Aaron B. Koontz. As one of the producers and the director of Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium and Horror Hypothesis in the anthology Scare Package, Koontz is returning December 17th with his solo effort: The Pale Door.

The film is a creepy collaboration between Koontz, horror scribe Joe R. Lansdale and his son Keith, who has followed in his father’s footsteps. Cameron Burns, Koontz and Keith Lansdale wrote the film while Joe R. is the executive producer.

The Pale Door plays off, was inspired by the real-life Dalton Gang, outlaws who were responsible for a series of high-profile bank and train robberies in the 1890’s. Older brother and grizzled bandit Duncan (Devin Druid) checks in on his squeaky clean younger brother Jake (Zachary Knighton) with the entire ornery gang in tow just to let him know he’s still breathing although the law and bounty hunters are on his tail.

As young’uns, the boys look on as their parents are slain in swift and brutal attack on the family homestead in the opening scene. For reasons that are never explained, a grown Jake wants to buy the land and what is left of the smouldering ruins of their home despite the horrible memories that exist there.

Melora Walters and Natasha Bassett in The Pale Door (2020)

Based on his meagre bus boy earnings Jake should be able to do so by the time he is ready to retire from the Drunken Duck. Although his idea of living on the edge is drinking his lemonade without ice, Jake insists on joining the gang on their next train robbery so he can finance his dream.

Duncan isn’t fond of the idea but agrees in the end.

The fugitive gunslingers stumble into a brothel and fall under the spell of their sexy hosts. Those temptresses morph into shrieking old crones who scamper on the walls and ceilings like spiders. Their real skin, torched during the witch hunts and trails, looks like Susie Bulloch barbecued them all on her grill.

From there, the promising The Pale Door follows the same path as From Dusk Till Dawn did with grumpy witches instead of grumpy vampires so there really isn’t much to elaborate on.

Like From Dusk Till Dawn, The Pale Door’s plot takes a backseat to action and mayhem as bullets and blood fly. That isn’t such a horrible thing in itself if you aren’t expecting very much. It is just the film’s promising start looked like it was building to something more than just Showdown at the Wild Witch Corral.

Even though it has a dude named ‘Druid’ in the cast which is pretty cool, The Pale Door unspools as two separate films. The first, a decent attempt at a western and the second, a horror-action hybrid like Evil Dead but without the clever wit. Although Koontz isn’t riding off into the sunset with The Pale Door, based on his tremendous work in the aforementioned and highly recommended Scare Package and Camera Obscura, this is just a bump in the road for this up and coming filmmaker.

Top Photo: Pat Healy and Noah Segan in The Pale Door (2020)


bodybagssm27 victims shot to death
bodybagssmTwo stabbed in the neck.
bodybagssmThroat cut.
bodybagssmSlashed to ribbons.
bodybagssmBurned alive.
bodybagssmOne impaling.
bodybagssmTwo swarming crow deaths.
bodybagssmRipped apart.

Naughty Bitsplucked_penguinNone.
Memorable Dialogue

dialoguesmDuncan: It is like big brother magic.
dialoguesmDodd: Your first kill is a…door?
dialoguesmDuncan : There are only two kinds of family. The one you are born into and the one you find along the way.

Pints of Blood  / 5blood_5
Rating / 5medalsm

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