I was very taken with writer-director Graham Hughes’ Death of a Vlogger, which showed a lot of the promise which is fulfilled in this compact, impressive, multiverse-ranging follow-up – which brings back most of the cast of the earlier film and also plays with the found footage-mock doc format.
Ash (Joma West) and Sam (Annabel Logan) have made a very unsuccessful documentary about a teddy bear manufacturer – ‘you don’t know existential fear until you’ve produced a film’ – and are looking for something more immediately grabby as a follow-up. They find a clip of graffiti artist Emily (Josie Rogers) venturing into an abandoned building where she finds a free-standing door – and disappears through it, with her tagalong camera guy glimpsing a spooky figure in the beyond. Ash and Sam, who have a very believable peppery friendship, track down the guy who posted the film (Hughes) and bring the door back to Sam’s flat. When opened, the door shows them – in succession – a mirrorworld where Sam’s mother is still alive, a possible all-powerful entity who chooses to appear as a talking dog, and an empty panda-themed attraction in an alternate universe (yes, it’s called Pandamonium – and the location is in Glasgow) where post-it note ‘free hugs’ signs in many languages lead to a very surprising panda.
Alternately excited and terrified, the duo bring in academic Innis (Paddy Kondracki) – who has at least heard of ‘wolf doors’ – and dare to explore further reaches of the multiverse, with Hughes managing to evoke several very different environments on a package holiday budget. We even get an abandoned/occupied city reminiscent of the first episode of ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ – albeit with something kaiju-sized stalking the ruins – plus a haunted church, Mexican jungle and a Ballard-like beach which serves as an interchange thanks to an array of battered doors. A development which brings on an interestingly-motivated villain depends on using one of the key conventions of found footage to fool the characters (and the audience) while there’s an emotional thread in Sam’s growing conviction that she’d be happier in some other universe.