Monday, October 31, 2011

Neighbor (2009)

What are neighbors for?

This is a low budget film with a paper thin story about a woman who goes around torturing and killing people without the slightest hint of remorse, her background, who she is, why she's doing it or if she'll ever get caught. The recent "Open House" went for something similar by showing full close ups of the characters but still keeping the audience in the dark for a loss of control, though this is going to be less subtle at times and much more bloody and direct than the mentioned. I'm sure they did it that way to make someone uncomfortable from the fact that she could anyone or anywhere because she'd easily fit into a crowd. However, the film is to the point of being vague enough to make it look too random and unconnective due to never stepping out of the silhouette of a movie character instead of the real deal.

Without even beating around the bush, an attractive woman is shown in another person's home doing ugly things by torturing two tied up victims for her own sadistic pleasure. Meanwhile a man named Don is shown with some unimportant banter between his friends that go about their typical twenty-something lives with drinking, women and music on their minds. Meanwhile the cruel woman is getting closer and closer to their final meet-up: call that destiny or just plain bad luck. Soon enough just knowing Don is a death sentence when his friends and potential girlfriends enter his house at their own risk when they're lured in. And that's essentially it, with some distractions, such as different ways people go about finding relationships and getting a final mix of one of their band's albums.

"Neighbor" tries to be both disturbing and have a kind of tongue-in-cheek humor with puns and stabs at other films to keep the audience busy, though both tones don't always go smoothly together here. The dialogue and performances aren't charismatic or affecting enough to want to wait in a bank line next to them, never mind knowing the character's general lives. If you watched the death scenes and fast forwarded the rest you wouldn't have missed much of anything important or significant. The score plays more on if this was a mystery with odd melodies that appear to be building up to something despite what's being shown as point blank.

There's zero message, nothing to read between the lines or to learn or advance from this. The relating fear only carries it so far. Hey, I go to bars, I like pretty women, I own a house, I know a Don...maybe I'm next? She looks and does everything the opposite you'd imagine a psychotic serial killer would do with the exception of the murder part, of course. She's overly charming, does various modes of violence with a smile and talks about sadistic deeds as if it's a day of shopping at the mall at her favorite store. There's no hidden sides that come out to show a dual personality except with an attempt at a half-hearted accusatory scene between her and a tied up Don. The only refreshing part about not making her an archetype would be that she's easier on the eyes than staring at a pencil thin guy who can barely hold up the specs on his face. That or an out of shape weirdo who's got three unguessable stains on his shirt, all of which are probably from breakfast, lunch and dinner.

This does deliver in the violence department. Though getting a true feeling or emotion out of this falls short and is reduced to just a momentary shock. For a low budget film this does have some effective looking gore effects come up, which would make for a nice compilation if you could cut out all of the filler in between because it doesn't serve much of a purpose anyway. As a slasher film, it's the equivalent of a porno with a half attempt at a script: I'd imagine for people who don't want a complicated story but only the goods. But why even try? Just make a short--a nasty, unrelenting short--and you've got my vote because there would be no clutter.

The movie feels so far fetched from the opening scene that it just keeps on piling on the hokiness then after to get conflicting as to which direction the audience is supposed to lean: to take it seriously or not or somewhere in between? The torture scenes don't always jump across the screen as they should in a fearful horror sense--even the behind the scenes shots show the crew with big grins and nervous or humorous laughter--since they're treated in a desensitized way from the starting point. Some are nasty, I'll give it that with various household supplies that you could easily find laying about yours. You can count on what's going to happen: woman hangs around someone, they're going to be tricked, get tortured and die. She's unstoppable, so it's a one-way street of carnage that only lets up when she's thinking of new ways to go about it. Believing that there's a person out there like this wouldn't be too from thinking Big Foot roams about.

Rating: 3/10

From Black to Red recommends instead: "Grotesque." This is another torture film with a paper thin story line--even more so--but is capable of steadily bringing the experience to new heights as it moves along.

Director: Robert A. Masciantonio (Cold Hearts)
Stars: America Olivo, Christian Campbell
Link: IMDB

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