Director: Marcus Dunsyan
Starring: Josh Stewart, Alex Essoe Bill Enhgvall
Synopsis: In Cutter, Mississippi an ex-army veteran discovers the dark truth about his neighbour and the secrets he may be keeping in the cellar.
Rating: 18 Duration: 87 minute Release date: 31 October (UK)
In a recent Twitter conversation, someone remarked to me that I watch a lot of mediocre horror films. That statement is true to a large extent and it does feel that I get more than my fair share of dire efforts to sift through. Even so, there is the odd one that sneaks through that is actually quite good. While it would be disingenuous to suggest The Neighbour is an amazing film, it is a clever little thriller that starts in one place and ends up somewhere quite different.
The Neighbour starts off in creepy fashion as we embark on a journey through rural America lit only by street lamps and the lights off of other cars. Our journey is short-lived as we soon wind up in a barnyard and come across John (Josh Stewart) and Rosie (Alex Essoe). The point of view the audience has is shared by a nameless woman who has seemingly being driving all night for an errand we suspect is of the criminal nature. It transpires that John & Rosie work for a local drug-runner and it is their job to change the license plates for the cars that enter their farm.
Marcus Dunstan is on his third film as a director; his previous efforts being The Collector and The Collection, but his pedigree in the horror genre has really come from his time as a writer on the Saw series, The Feast and Piranha 3DD. It’s here Dunstan has honed his craft and learned his trade with the pay-off being the smart and stylish The Neighbour. It may have had a limited release but The Neighbour feels like a very accomplished film that deserves wider accolades. And with any luck, it will find a home on DVD.
In terms of originality, The Neighbour doesn’t do much for the genre. Its plot has been done time and again and features more than its fair share of clichés. It’s also noticeable how grim the film can feel at times, even when two characters are seemingly getting along and having a little fun it can feel as though it is tinged with some dark intent that will break its way through at any moment. Despite this, the ominous feel carries on until the films final third where The Neighbour turns into something utterly different than when it started.
What may grate for some viewers is the lack of a real hero to root for. While creepy neighbour Troy (Bill Engvall) and his human trafficking/torture ring are the obvious villains, John and Rosie aren’t exactly saints themselves. They help John’s Uncle keep others safe on the wrong side of the law while saving enough money to escape the small town and the endless circle they have found themselves in. In a way it can be hard to feel anything but apathy for these characters, but during the final act you suddenly care about what happens and the siege mentality really settles in.
It takes a while to get going, but once it clicks into gear The Neighbour is a sharp, intense thriller with an unsettling end.