The new horror movie The Other Side of the Door looks, well, horrifying. The film is about a mother named Maria whose young son dies in a car accident, and when she can't get over his death, she seeks supernatural means to get some closure. The movie is heavy on the folklore aspect of the story, giving it a legend-like quality and leading some fans to wonder if The Other Side of the Door is a true story. But is it?
Well, here's what I mean when I say the movie sounds like folklore: Maria's attempts to bring back her son lead her to an ancient Indian temple, where a doorway separates the living from the dead. She's told that she'll be able to speak to her son through the door, but she is not to open the door. Of course, she opens the door and releases her son, and as anyone who has ever seen Pet Sematary can attest, "Sometimes dead is better." Her son brings back some undead company with him, and that's when things turn super frightening. Obviously, this is some over the top craziness, so the movie is not based on a true story. It was written by screenwriters Johannes Roberts and Ernest Riera, who have each penned a number of horror films, such as Darkhunters, and Forest of the Damned and its sequel. But what about an Indian temple of the dead? Does such a place exist?
Probably the closest real Indian temple to what's depicted in the movie is the Mehandipur Balaji, located in the northwestern state of Rajasthan. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu God Hanuman, and is widely known throughout the country as the place to go to rid oneself of evil spirits. On any given day, it's said that you can go to the temple and find throngs of people in various states of possession, having their ghosts and demons exorcised, and seeing such sights as people pouring boiling hot water on themselves without feeling a thing.
According to makemytrip.com, visitors to the temple are presented with the following set of rules:
1. Do not eat or drink anything inside the temple's village.2. Do not talk to or even accidentally touch any other person inside the temple.3. Do not take any food or offering from the temple home with you.4. Empty any food or drinks you have on you before leaving the temple.5. Do not turn and look back once you leave the temple.
These rules sure make it seem like something is going on here, either ghost-related or food-related. But other than the probably millions of believers of the temple's power, is there any proof that supernatural things happen there? Well, whatever goes on there has been significant enough to have attracted studies from the international scientific community, curious as to how the temple's rituals seem to be able to cure people with serious mental issues. To get an understanding of what goes on there, and to scare you, here is a brief clip of a woman at Mehandipur Balaji Temple whose body and mind are said to be inhabited by ghosts.
So it seems that (thankfully) The Other Side of the Door is completely made up, and is basically a traditional American ghost story with some faux-Indian mysticism thrown in for good measure. I don't know if the movie was inspired by the Mehandipur Balaji Temple or not, but there does really appear to be a temple in India where evil spirits can be found... if you believe in that sort of thing.
Images: 20th Century Fox; giphy.com