Neighbor (2009)

Fear your neighbor.
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Neighbor - Fear your neighbor

Once the obvious buzzwords are disregarded, Robert A. Masciantonio's Neighbor far supersedes the majority of horror movies labelled with "home invasion" and "torture porn". The character subtleties, the attention to detail, the copious obscure references to other horror movies and the abundance of inventive methods of extracting the red stuff from victims puts Neighbor in a position to steal the lunch money of its peers without having to spend any time in detention. Despite the atrocities inflicted by "The Girl" the movie maintains a pitch black level of humour mostly due to the Narcissistic Personality Disorder of the main antagonist expertly portrayed by America Olivo in a role designed to stretch her acting capabilities more than a smear test stretches a... errr... in a role designed to stretch her acting capabilities more than Camaro in Bitch Slap. Olivio's character is complex and expertly hints at an intricate background and psychological motivations for how she passes her adult time, but doesn't spell any of it out leaving the details to the imagination of the viewer. Despite not spoon feeding the audience the reasons for this movie the main character is deep, profound and enamours a sense of understanding while being completely demented.

With complex storylines sent into the obscurity of the intricacies in the background the movie is allowed to concentrate on the hardcore hard gore and the innovative ways that an inquisitive mind can create pain. There is no dumbing down of the horror and there are numerous creative scenes of torture which are enhanced by "The Girl's" often surprised reactions to the outcome. There are drills, pizza cutters, worms, hammers,scissors, hack-saws, numerous electrical appliances and an amazing insight into the effects of blood thinning drugs on a perforated female. How these weapons are utilised creates some truly horrific injuries but the love scene is the standout scene guaranteed to create a phobia of glass tubes in the male population. The love scene also suggests that "The Girl" may have hade something rapey in her past to make her tick how she currently ticks and shows rapists that being unwillingly violated can be very unpleasant... very, very unpleasant.

The makers of Neighbor are obviously big horror devotees, there are numerous non-obvious quotes from other horrors, a number of scenes paying homage to famous splatter events (including "Do you want to see something really scary?" and an unusual LARPing of the Psycho shower scene) and a whole dreamlike sequence very reminiscent of An American Werewolf in London creating a bizarre and prolonged portion of the movie with numerous "waking up within a dream scenes" designed to throw the viewer out of synch and wonder if there is some kind of twist. Another quaint touch is that the majority of the character names are combinations of well known directors and actors in the genre; Sam Landis, Sophia Kane, Mike Hodder, just to drop in a few.

The basic premise is that a new girl starts being seen around an affluent neighbourhood and makes uses of peoples homes while she puts them through a number of traumas to satisfy the inner scientist living in her messed up brain. She scopes her intelligence from interacting with the locals as she goes about her day to day business of dog walking, jogging and other non-psychotic activities. Neighbor is almost an exploration of the psychotic mind trying to understand normality.

After a few social experiments in the hinterland our demented damsel meets up with the focus of the movie, which is Don Carpenter (Christian Campbell) and his aspiring rock band and proceeds to make him regret living a middle class life.

Christian Campbell's performance is not really up to par unless he is supposed to be playing a character with a high pain threshold; surely a victim experiencing his woes would exhibit a lot more crying, dribbling and underwear soling. The stand out performer of the show is definitely America Olivo, she captures the complete lack of empathy of a serial killer perfectly and throws in a few lustful glances as she expresses her psychosis and makes cadavers out of the guiltless, combining an innocent inquisitiveness with a subtle sexual power.

Don't expect any deep and meaningful insights into moralistic ways of life, but this is the beauty of the film... it is an adventure in the pointless circles of suburban life and how this idyllic scenario can be spoiled by an inconspicuous interloper, nothing more and nothing less. There are buckets of blood and some beautifully creative methods of extracting this, all intertwined with a cutely comical antagonist making light of what should be most heinous atrocities, plus there is a "walking into the distance" ending that films such as Exorcismus could definitely learn from.
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