Portal is a captivating and visually-arresting sci-fi thriller that pushes the boundaries of science fiction storytelling. From the team that brought you V/H/S, Sea Fever and Becky, the film stars Josh Peck (Drake & Josh, Mean Creek), Wilson Bethel (Daredevil, Hart of Dixie) and Lina Esco (Kingdom, S.W.A.T.). When a number of mysterious, alien “doors” appear suddenly around the globe, individuals from all walks of life must come together to discover what these doors are, where they lead, and if we can–or should–attempt to cross to the other side.
From the first time I saw the trailer for Portal I was intrigued to say the least with expectations of a decent sci-fi action mystery. In reality Portal is a confusing mix of fractured stories that leaves a lot of questions unanswered with one connection being the “doors”, although strangely enough still makes a half decent film.
I’ll explain what I mean, we are introduced to a group of young teens at the beginning who are stuck in some sort of detention hall in school (oh the memories) which gets me thinking that this is laying the groundwork with a bit of back story. As the story continues you see the youths explore the school searching for answers as to what is going on, only to find a “door” which for some reason one of the girls in the group is drawn towards. You would think at this point we would see the story of the troubled teens continue in a similar vein to the film IT, well nope that would be the last you see of the teens leaving you ask yourself the first question “what happened to the them?”
The story then moves on with new characters. This time we meet a group, who I first thought were the teens grown up, but these are completely new characters. The group are known as “Knockers,” normal civilians who have volunteered to pass through the “doors” to find answers. Now here is where I thought the film would kick it up a notch, unfortunately I was still left scratching my head. You see the group of “Knockers” pass through the door and you see the dimension that lies behind, an alternate dimension that really wants to play with your head. Different things happen to the team as they split up to find clues to what is going on, what is happening to them feels very personal to them, at this point you can’t tell whether what is happening is reality or is tricks being played on the mind which feels like a great piece of film writing to me. Once again this part of the story ends abruptly with no answers to what happened to the group.
In the last part of the film we are introduced to a guy called Jamal who is an eccentric scientist loner who lives in the woods. His lifes work seems to be to make contact with the “door” or beyond it. Without giving too much of a spoiler this end part for me makes the film and I would’ve liked to have seen more of it as the story seems to work much better with the content. Again this section comes to an strange end as the story doesn’t end with Jamal instead we are presented with a video call with the radio presenter that has been a constant throughout the film and you see him give an interview to an eccentric guy who has maybe more to tell about the doors. A very interesting way to end the film and for me the way it was done points to a possible sequel, I am however still left scratching my head with questions that I don’t feel were answered but in a strange way I still enjoyed the film and would welcome a sequel to maybe give the answers.
An enjoyable sci-fi watch but one which could have been better served with a more focussed narrative.
Portal was written and directed by Jeff Desom, Saman Kesh and Dugan O’Neal. Signature Entertainment presents Portal on Digital Platforms and DVD 19th April. Pre-order your copy now.
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