THE NEIGHBOR (2016)
Directed by Marcus Dunstan
A criminal couple working for a local crime boss decide they want a clean break but it seems their illegal activity hasn’t gone unnoticed by their next door neighbour. However, it seems that their neighbour is harbouring a few secrets of his own too.
A Southern torturous twist on Rear Window, THE NEIGHBOUR is a thriller which spills into the horror genre when criminal duo John and wife Rosie discover their neighbour Troy isn’t a simple, keeps-himself-to-himself guy. Spying on him from their living room, to ensure their illegal drug smuggling, money handling and licence plate changing activity goes unnoticed, Rosie spots a sinister sight that could very well threaten all of their lives.
THE NEIGHBOUR starts quietly as the audience are introduced to John and Rosie showing just what type of people these two characters are. The slow burn start gradually pick ups tension when Troy makes his it clear he’s seen things going on and, though not directly, implies that noses are best kept out of each other’s businesses if things are to run smoothly between them. However, when you’ve got a whopping great telescope in the lounge poking through the blinds, it’s only a matter of time before Rosie was going to spot something she didn’t like. These turn of events thrust John into an unexpected hero role as he is forced to fight with every inch of his being to save his own skin as well as that of those around jim.
Despite its initial intriguing start, THE NEIGHBOUR quickly descends from thriller into predictable horror fare. A mysterious crime thriller would have been a breath of fresh air and captured the imagination more than the torture pornesque survival flick that this film transforms into. A lack of charisma from its leads doesn’t help either as John comes across as nonchalant to everything from being intimidated by his boss “uncle” to facing Troy and his equally warped sons. There’s nothing here we haven’t seen before and unfortunately many other films do it a lot better than THE NEIGHBOUR does with its lacklustre storyline leaving a lot to be desired, especially from well-worn horror fans such as ourselves.
THE NEIGHBOR does have its plus points, however, with some stylish camera work and shots of the sets and location offering an authenticity that is often missing from other horrors. This helps to create a world for our characters thrive though the house our two leads temporary live in lacks the depth required to convince as a loving home. The relationship between Rosie and John is hardly touched upon either so when the narrative does turn south for these two individuals, it’s a bit of an ask for the viewer to feel much for these characters as a couple. I feel that a little more time spent with these two in the opening section of the film could have helped enormously as well as a bit of chemistry between the two actors which is sadly missing.
Whilst a nice idea in theory, THE NEIGHBOUR unfortunately fails to rise above or differentiate itself from other “middle-of-the-road” horror thrillers.