Lock Every Door by Riley Sager is a tough one to rate for me because there was a lot of things I liked about it – the characters, the writing, the setting – but it ultimately left me disappointed. It’s both predictable and not, with the unpredictable aspects feeling more silly than anything else. I had a feeling as I was going through this, and enjoying it, that it wouldn’t stick the landing, and that’s exactly what happened for me.
In Lock Every Door we follow Jules as she takes on a seemingly too-good-to-be-true job as an apartment sitter at New York’s most notorious building: the Bartholomew. Home to the ultra-wealthy (famous and otherwise), the Bartholomew has a sordid history of brutality. But the view of Central Park – and the $12,000 for three months of living there – are too good to pass up for this newly single and jobless 20-something. Plus, it happens to be the setting from her favorite novel ever, so it just makes sense.
Once there, she finds out about some rules, which include not bothering the neighbors, no guests ever allowed, and that she must not spend any nights away from the Bartholomew. Strange, but doable, Jules decides. It doesn’t take long for her to meet other apartment sitters, and when one she quickly befriends makes an unexpected exit in the middle of the night, she can’t help but think something more sinister is at play.
Riley Sager weaves a fun narrative that I enjoyed following. I wanted to see what was coming next, even if I couldn’t shake the feeling that I knew exactly where it was going. Still, the journey there was pretty fun and well-written. Admittedly, it does veer a bit from what I expected, but the bones of the idea are the same, so to speak, there was just a different motivation at play…one that I couldn’t buy into at all.
One of the other big disappointments was that the decision-making kept getting worse and worse for our main players. I understand, as a horror fan, that some of that is necessary to move a story forward, but time and time again I kept thinking that there was a much easier and quicker way out of this whole situation via one trip to the police station. Instead, Sager writes these characters into dumb decisions. With the background of Jules, I just had a hard time suspending my disbelief that she wouldn’t know a better way to handle things since this was, in some ways, very familiar for her.
Lock Every Door isn’t a bad book, just a disappointing one. Much like I felt about the author’s other book I’ve read, Final Girls, Sager is a good writer, but his stories just don’t connect with me in the way I expect them to, or hope they will. Lock Every Door feels forgettable by the end of it, which is a shame because Sager does so much right. But dumb decision-making to advance the plot, and a largely predictable (but not) ending leave me wishing for more.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.