Door Mouse: Avan Jogia’s First Outing in the Director’s Chair

2023 is officially underway, but before we see Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part 1 and Dune: Part Two, we must truck through slower months before blockbuster summer and the next round of Oscar-hopefuls. In recent years, the winter has evolved from Hollywood’s dumping ground to a season of surprise hits (Bad Boys for LifeM3gan) and a flagship for Marvel releases (Black PantherAnt-Man and the Wasp: Quantamania).

There peril of the “January release” holds strong, however, as Canadian actor Avan Jogia (The Exchange) makes his feature directorial and writing debut with Door Mouse. This thriller-mystery follows Mouse (Hayley Law), a comic book writer and burlesque worker, as she searches for her friend and colleague, Doe Eyes (Nhi Do), who suddenly goes missing. As Mouse and her friend Ugly (Keith Power) dive deeper into Doe Eyes’ disappearance, they become involved with dangerous and powerful people while discovering their town’s darkest secrets.

While Jogia probably could have spent more time finessing the script for Door Mouse, it is evident that he nevertheless has devoted significant time towards creating these characters and the world they inhabit. From the opening scene, the film highlights Mouse’s daily routine, which includes working on her comics, drinking coffee, and smoking a cigarette. None of these traits is unique, but these minute habits allow her to connect with audiences who follow similar mundane routines.

As an aspiring comic artist, Mouse realizes that her new story begins to mirror happening in her real life. The film shines and sets itself apart. in these moments thanks to some animated sequences that evoke comic book panels. The eccentric designs of the environments and characters pop out and rejuvenate the story when Door Mouse begins to feel stale. One wishes that Jogia employed this technique more confidently, especially in the third act when the suspense continuously builds.


Even supporting characters get their moment in the spotlight, including Ugly, whose past is explored vaguely but effectively when he visits his wealthy parents after running away several years ago. Door Mouse doesn’t explain their falling out, but Ugly’s estrangement from his parents comes into effect later when he has to sneak into a hotel full of elitists. Jogia does an exceptional job at giving every character an identity they can call their own with scenes that make them pop.

Most characters are sharp and witty thanks to the actors’ use of monotone and straight delivery, although the style gets slightly repetitive and tiring about two-thirds into the runtime. As the lead, there are moments in which Hayley Law shows promise as an actress. However, when disgusting things are happening in front of her, and directly at her, her face rarely shows any emotion. As a result, her limited range takes away from the magnitude of what is happening on screen, which can be quite disturbing during certain sequences.

Admittedly, Door Mouse does not add anything particularly new or exciting to the thriller-mystery genre, but Jogia shows promise in world-building and character development. While certain narrative aspects falter a bit as it goes along, there is certain to be anticipation for what he does behind the camera next.


Door Mouse opens in theatres & on-demand on January 13.