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film review

Hayley Law in a scene from Door Mouse.Courtesy of Elevation Pictures

  • Door Mouse
  • Written and directed by Avan Jogia
  • Starring Hayley Law, Donal Logue and Famke Janssen
  • Classification N/A; 110 minutes
  • Opens in select theatres and available on-demand Jan. 13

You have to feel for the filmmakers behind Door Mouse, an ambitious but flawed Canadian mystery that slips into release this weekend with barely a peep.

Like many domestic productions, Door Mouse had the odds stacked against it from the beginning. A low budget, fresh (perhaps too-fresh) actors in the lead roles, only a handful of internationally known names (Donal Logue, Famke Janssen) cast in the margins to appeal to the international market. The sensation of watching writer-director Avan Jogia’s feature debut is not dissimilar to attempting to solve a particularly frustrating equation: originality + budget – resources x global sales = cinema?

If that math doesn’t add up, then neither does Door Mouse’s tale, a twisty little head-scratcher that is all style and no sense. Following a perpetually broke comic-book artist/fetish performer named Mouse (Hayley Law), who begins to investigate the disappearances of young women in her seedy corner of town, Jogia’s thriller believes itself to be a slick neo-noir tale. But the more bread crumbs that Mouse picks up on her trail of clues, the less satisfying that Jogia’s all-you-can-eat buffet of criminal quirkiness becomes.

The filmmaker – who also pops up as one of Mouse’s many oddball frenemies – certainly possesses a vision, and pursues it onscreen with every dollar that he is afforded. It is only that his particular vision approximates a faded memory of countless other, better entries in the underworld-chic canon, from the secret-society arcana of the John Wick films to the masked orgies of Eyes Wide Shut.

Law, best known for her work on television’s Riverdale, gives her hero a jaded edge that prevents Mouse from tipping into a sympathy-free bore. Meanwhile, Logue (as a kind-hearted pervert) and Janssen (as the seen-it-all bar owner who employs Mouse and her friends) bring an air of seasoned professionalism to the motions. But ultimately that is all the film is: a series of motions, bumps, swerves, dodges and turns, all deployed for a journey to nowhere special.

Never mind that squeak you hear this weekend, if you can even hear Door Mouse scratch in the first place.