Ghost stories function as far more than a scare, serving as guideposts in how to react to the unknown. The answer is always the same: Don’t. Don’t play that Ouija board, don’t follow the specter, don’t look now, don’t summon a spirit, don’t wish someone back to life, don’t travel to the underworld, don’t reanimate a corpse… Ghost stories embrace the unknown as just that – unknowable. And those that seek to know – that play the board, that follow the specter, that look, that summon, that reanimate – always face horrific consequences. In this way, ghost stories become comforting – they suggest it’s perfectly fine to not have the answers, that maybe we’re better off just sitting and listening around the campfire than daring to go out into the dark wood.
The Other Side of the Door falls perfectly in line with this age-old tradition, a ghost story about a grieving mother who will do anything to see her dead son, no matter what the horrific cost. Sarah Wayne Callies and Jeremy Sisto star as Maria & Michael, expats raising a family in India. After an accident claims the life of her youngest son, Maria seeks out an ancient temple with the power to communicate to the recently departed. The catch – you can only speak with the deceased through the temple door, but must never open the door to see your loved one. Maria naturally can’t abide by these rules, opening the door and releasing a spirit far more nefarious than an eight-year-old boy.
In the following interview with filmmaker Johannes Roberts and co-star Sarah Wayne Callies, they discuss the ghost stories of their youth, crafting the mythology of The Other Side of the Door and ‘hanging out’ with death cults. For the full interview, watch below.
Sarah Wayne Callies & Johannes Roberts:
- Johannes Roberts on his favorite ghost story: The Woman in Black (1989 version)
- Sarah Wayne Callies on the Hawaiian ghost stories of her youth
- Roberts on crafting the ghost mythology for The Other Side of the Door
- The duo on researching Indian death cults
- Roberts on coming up with the practical design for ‘The Myrtu’ (the ghost/specter of the film)