Door Mouse plays out vibrantly as a rebellious detective tale with a comic book flair.
Published on May 11, 2023
Rating 3.5 /5
Avan Jogia’s Door Mouse could easily be considered a comic book series, despite being an original production by Jogia. It’s not just that it has the premise of the main character creating a comic book, hanging out at a comic book shot, and utilizing comic-book-style animations for some action sequences. It’s that there’s a stylish neo-noir edge that feels so blunt and vicious that it could only exist within the pages of an indie comic. Thankfully, the age of streaming has allowed for films like this to flourish, giving a new texture to familiar tales of sex cults, prostitutes, drug dealers, cigarettes, and coffee.
The film centers around Mouse (Hayley Law), an amateur artist by day and dancer by night. She struggles to sell her horny/violent comics and make enough money at her job that involves pleasing sleazy clients. She at least hangs out with a good group of men and women. Mama (Famke Janssen) is a stern yet caring owner of her club, able to rescue any girl who doesn’t want dudes fawning or stalking them. Doe-Eyes (Nhi Do) is a solid friend who can relate to Mouse and chats with her among drinks and clients. Ugly (Keith Powers) is a noble guy who will stick by Mouse if she’s ever in trouble.
Trouble comes soon enough when Doe-Eyes turns up missing. Her kidnapping off the streets leads Mouse to track down the clues to discover what happened. As she ventures through slums of crime and the dens of drug dealers, she finds that other girls have also been plucked off the streets by unknown individuals. There’s something foul afoot, and Mouse plans to infiltrate the scummy organization that picks up women and blows the top of their greater scheme. She’ll also kick plenty of ass and maybe finish drawing a comic book or two.
Mouse’s adventure has a lot of flair for its detective staging of Mouse’s gritty narration and the dicing up of chapters. Mouse as a character is compelling for her many quirks, including how she treats the mundanity of life based on how well she can stomach her morning coffee and cigarette, treating them almost like horoscopes for the day. The dialogue ranges from clever passages revealing Mouse’s nerdy nature of paper to blunter discussions of how capitalism erodes freedom when billionaires pit the working classes against each other. There’s also some sly wit to this staging, as when a client played by Donal Logue responds to the capitalism critique with, “Well if I were a neo-Marxist…” and is promptly told to shut up.
The film has animated sequences to highlight the more explosive action and chase scenes. These are a decent choice for some medium-switching in how they elevate the story, style, and excitement. For example, there’s a scene where Mouse and Doe-Eyes need to make a daring jump from a window where it’s expected they’ll make a safe landing. In live-action, this could run the risk of being too absurd. But with a dose of animation that elevates the material, it’s a believable sequence that looks better than logically sound.
Door Mouse plays out vibrantly as a rebellious detective tale with a comic book flair. It moves fast enough to be invested, is bold enough never to be misread, and is fueled by coffee-infused action to make it an explosive tale. Part of the driving force behind Mouse’s investigation is that her comic books become more based around her own life, which breeds anticipation for the next issue. The same thrill can be felt in each chapter of this bold tale about never giving in to corruption and never settling for an unjust system. This film inspires one to keep fighting, one cup of coffee at a time.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.