Rick and Morty, 28 Days Later: Wooden door slams
It only makes sense to kick off this sound effect safari with a moment of adolescent rage. The scene below shows Morty in one of his less forgiving moments, slamming the front door to his house repeatedly while yelling at his parents and giving them the death stare.
There’s a healthy amount of low and mid-range frequencies in the impact sound, followed by a short tail to represent the latch bolt retracting and snapping back against the metal frame. Listen closely and you’ll also hear a subtle metal sound each time the wood door opens, representing the turning of the handle.
The soft-to-loud open and close dynamic adds to the humor of this scene. If it were up to Morty, every noise would be loud, but he has to make a gentle opening sound before he can slam it closed again.
During this intro scene from 28 Days Later (2002), the order of door slamming sfx is reversed, beginning with a mid-range impact followed by a low end boom. A reverb tail is added to the mid-range tones for dramatic effect, representing the terror that’s sustained as the characters look for a way to escape death.
An almost identical approach to sound design was used for this next scene from Game of Thrones. The impact tone and reverb tail are even more intense than before.
Peninsula, Vacation Movie: Car door slams
Anger and fear don’t have a monopoly on the sound of slamming doors! The most common, emotionally neutral example from everyday life is a car door closing. Sure, you can technically ease the door shut and push it in until it latches without making a sound. But unless it’s night time and you’re trying to avoid waking the neighbors, you’re slamming that puppy every time.
This slapstick scene from Vacation Movie (2015) centers around a family who just bought a new car. It’s supposed to have sensors that jam the door and prevent passengers from accidentally injuring their arm or hand. To show off this cool new feature, the dad asks his wife to slam the door on his arm. Suffice to say, the sensors don’t work.
Notice how the impact sound effect is clearly referencing a metal door. That doesn’t make any sense if you’re taking the scene literally. However, as a sound designer you come to learn that sfx don’t need to be realistic. They just need to evoke the target feeling. In this case, the sound of a metal door slamming on a fleshy arm would have been too muted. This sound works better.
Action movies tend to use car door slams as part of a sound effect sequence. This moment from the movie Peninsula (2020) features one of the most ordinary and typical car door slams you’ll hear. A gentle whoosh sound effect syncs up with the closing motion, followed by a short and subdued impact tone.
It’s all part of a chain of car ambience, including the beep of unlocking doors, handle pulling, window rolling, and tires squealing during the escape.
Friday: Screen door slams
Some kinds of doors slam shut forcefully by design. The most common examples of that is a metal screen door located on the outside of a house. Spring-loaded hinges enter a state of tension when they’re opened and will swing closed automatically. With even a gentle pull, they can make quite a racket.
This comedy scene from the movie Friday (1995) features Ice Cube apathetically coming into the house and pulling the screen door closed without effort or force. Smokey’s mom tells them to “stop slamming my goddamn door” even though it makes the loud noise by design.
Like the previous Vacation Movie example, the unexpected slamming sound effect combines with a whole lot of commotion for comedic effect.
Dead Space: Elevator door slams
Movies and television aren’t the only place where you’ll hear metal doors banging together. In the following clip from the 2023 video game Dead Space, a monster called the necromorph tries to pry open an elevator door. It bangs at the entrance repeatedly as the game’s soundtrack builds tension.
When the necromorph finally breaks through the gate, it stands at the entrance and positions itself for the final death blow. Lucky for the player, the elevator door slams shut automatically and the monster’s body explodes in every direction. The metal door materials clang as its sword flies out of its hand and ricochet’s against the elevator’s metal interior.
Access 70,000 royalty free sound effects
We’ve covered the most common door slam sound effects, so now it’s time to start digging in and finding the audio files best suited for your own project. You can start with the free door sounds provided at the top of this article, or sign up for Audio Design Desk today to get access to the complete library of 70,000 royalty free sound fx.