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‘The Pale Door’ review: Western/horror hybrid is a strange brew

Cowboys and witches.

The Pale Door is a horror Western hybrid that puts the popular Dalton gang in a situation not found on their Wikipedia page. The movie sees the outlaws battle a coven of witches in what sounds like a comedy. The plot focuses on the gang after a train robbery gone wrong sees the group end up in a ghost town.

The Dusk to Dawn vibes start to kick in when the gang finds out the town only has a brothel. Before long, the women who work there reveal their true selves and their sinister plan. This is the point at which audiences will stick with the movie or check out.

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The Pale Door steadfastly sticks to its B movie pedigree. The premise alone guarantees it would be pretty much impossible to shake off either way. There is a self awareness to the proceedings. The film never asks to be treated as a joke while at the same time keeping up an atmosphere of fun. This makes the sillier moments more palatable.

Mashing together two such different genres can be tricky to pull off. There is the matter of crafting a story that brings everything together seamlessly. The Pale Door struggles here. It starts off as a Western then turns into a horror movie with cowboys. The setting is there, but the pacing will throw some off.

The Pale Door leans into its genre trappings. The opening moments are attention grabbing and exciting. Director Aaron B. Koontz does an almost too meticulous job of placing audiences in the Wild West. Once things enter the realm of the supernatural, the movie hits it stride. There are some great special effects and gorehounds will be satiated.

Horror movies can get away with taking an over the top situation seriously. The Dalton Gang, Cotton Mather, and a coven of witches sounds like an odd mix. The Pale Door proves this is the case as it struggles to bring its story together. When it does work, there is fun to be found.

The Pale Door premieres on Shudder December 17

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