THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
According to Stephen King, this is a dark version of Stand By Me, well that is what is says on the cover and I have to admit, it was that tagline that drew my attention to an unknown horror that has just hit the shelves. Based on the best selling book by Jack Ketchum, this is painful true story of sexual abuse, that offers some mightily disturbing scenes, that may make you look away in disgust.
Now I am not talking about the gore-porn that fills each horror film, but the plight of a poor young girl whose ordeal at the hands of her Aunt is at times too much to watch.
After the death of their parents, two sisters move in with their Aunt Ruth (Blanche Baker) and their three sons and soon Ruth turns on the eldest Meg (Blythe Auffarth) and imprisons her in the basement where she suffers physical and sexual abuse, all told through the eyes of the next door boy David (Daniel Manche) who is later played by Die Hard’s William Atherton whose regret at never telling anyone is why we have now and again the deep voiceover that fills the screen.
The Girl Next Door is not a bad film, but its not great either. Its a serious horror that may have the cheap thrill gang look for something else, but while the subject matter is a real shake the head moment, the film itself does not do enough to make us really feel for Meg, which is a terrible thing to say, as you wish for no-one to go through the agony she went through.
What I mean is, the film fails to build up tension despite the required slow pace. We do not get to know everyone involved, all we get is an introduction and then BANG! we straight in. Its obvious the overall theme and concern is that “kids would do anything they are told!” but its not enough when us the viewer need to know why her Aunt could turn on her niece….and why David did not tell his parents on what was going on.
All we have is the same cycle of scenes…..Ruth ranting about life….torture…..Ruth ranting about life…..torture……..and so on…with each ordeal getting worse until we come to the most brutal of torture that will make you squirm at the thought of it.
There is no blood and gore, which is a good thing has that would have taken away the serious impact of the subject on hand, but the one main complaint is that if the film ever needed more running time then its this, as the end will baffle all viewers who probably expected a final half of a big courtroom, with the older David (Atherton) finally doing right for poor Meg, the fact we get no explanation, just the cast credits, offers even more frustration, as The Girl Next Door has a lot going for it, its just wasted away in such clumsy fashion….
OVERALL: A tough true life horror from a book they say was unfilmable, its decent enough, with some powerful performances, just needed a better director to pull it all together and we may have had a classic!
[pt-filmtitle]The Girl Next Door[/pt-filmtitle]