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Film / The Devil's Doorway

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For over 200 years, the Catholic Church in Ireland held women in asylums called 'Magdalene Laundries'. They held prostitutes, orphans, the abused, the mentally disabled and unmarried pregnant women. In 1960 two priests were sent to a Magdalene Laundry to film their investigation into a reported miracle.

The Devil's Doorway is a 2018 found footage religious horror film from Ireland directed by Aishlinn Clarke about supernatural goings-on in a Magdelene laundry in 1960s Ireland - in conjunction with the realistic historic horrors inflicted upon the young women and girls imprisoned within the laundry at the hands of the nuns and clergy that was hidden away by Irish society at the time.

Two priests, the young and idealistic Father John Thornton (Ciaran Flynn), and the older and cynical Father Thomas Riley (Lalor Roddy) are sent to investigate reports of statues of the Virgin Mary crying blood in one of Ireland's many Magdelene laundries - institutions established by the Irish Catholic Church originally to care for and socially rehabilitate women at risk from alcoholism and prostitution in the late eighteenth century, but over time became prisons for any girl or young woman deemed impure or sinful in the rigid Irish Catholic social dogma that permeated Irish society throughout the 20th century. As the two men of the cloth investigate, the young Fr. Thornton filming their mission with by order of the bishop, the cruel and abusive treatment of the women at the hands of the nuns becomes horrifically apparent alongside the alleged blood from the statues give way to reveal something more sinister afoot.

For those unfamiliar with this particularly dark chapter of Irish history think The Handmaid's Tale meets The Exorcist meets Paranormal Activity.

For a more realistic film account of these places see The Magdalene Sisters, thought one may argue that it is only more realistic in the absence of the supernatural.

No relation to the second Witchboard film which was titled Witchboard 2: The Devil's Doorway, through they both deal with demonic possession and supernatural horror.

The Devil's Doorway contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Book Ends: When John starts filming one of the first images shown is an altar with Jesus Christ on a cross and ends with the demonically possessed Mother Superior at a Satanic altar in the underground tunnels beneath the laundrey.
    • Father Thomas reveals he was born out of wedlock, most likely in a Magdalene laundrey, possibly the one depicted in the film as claimed by the possessed Kathleen and by the end of the film he dies there.
  • Corrupt Church: The Irish Catholic Church imprisons and exploits girls and women for slave labor and the Mother Superior mentions that some of the children have been fathered by priests.
  • Cynic–Idealist Duo: Thomas (Cynic) and John (Idealist).
  • Death by Childbirth: Invoked and Discussed. Dr. Cleary wants to deliver Kathleen's child at the expense of Kathleen's life.
  • Defiled Forever: The Mother Superior takes this view of the girls and young women under her care, especially the pregnant girl locked in an underground cell, Kathleen O'Brien who she states is no longer a girl as she has had sexual relations with a man, and believe is insane or possessed by Satan.
  • Downer Ending: Both priests are killed by the evil infesting the laundry and the treatment of the women there will likely continue for some time until the 90s when their horrors were revealed to Irish society.
  • Found Footage: An Irish period-set example that uses a 16mm film camera.
  • Hollywood Satanism: All the trappings of contemporary depictions of evil Satanic rituals and possessions in a setting synonymous for the abuse of women and children by Christian religious orders. The irony is not coincidental.
  • Lobotomy: Dr Cleary recommends performing one on Kathleen to safely deliver her baby at the expense of Katheen's life.
  • Meaningful Name: The names of the two priests carry particular significance when viewed from a biblical perspective.
    • Thomas is referred to as the "Doubting Thomas" by John, referring Jesus's disciple Thomas who in The Four Gospels was not present when the resurrected Jesus revealed himself to the surviving disciples and insisted on putting his fingers through the holes in Jesus's hands from the crucifixion. He did and accepted the Resurrection, but has since become synonymous with doubt.
    • John refers to John the Revelator or John of Patmos, a figure (believed to actually be John the Apostle) mentioned in the Book of Revelation as being exiled to the Greek island of Patmos during a time of Anti-Christian prosecution paralleling Father John's own alienation from the Church with the prosecution of the women in the laundry.
  • Nuns Are Spooky: Alongside cruel.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: A priest variation with Father Thomas as the old, and Father John as the young.
  • Religious Horror: A no less nightmarish one rooted in actual history.
  • Shout-Out: John mentions that Rebel Without a Cause is his favourite film because he finds it challenging.
  • Undead Child: The ghosts of the children seen and heard roaming about the laundry at night, implied to be the ghosts of the children who died there and whose skeletons John and Thomas find in the tunnels.

"Welcome home Thomas."