Thursday, March 18, 2010

Girl Next Door, The (2007) - 2.5/5

When something claims to be one of the most disturbing films that critics have every seen (even Stephen King had something to say in that effect) that means it goes on my list to watch. That's how "The Girl Next Door" ended up in my viewing pile. Honestly, all those critics that claimed it to be that disturbing are quite right. It is one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen.

During the 50s, the roles of society were starting to shift. When a young man David meets a new girl next door named Meg, he begins to see a new side of life. Too bad her caretaker and Aunt, Ruth, is somewhat of a fucked up individual and blames Meg for a lot of whats wrong with society and life. But its her unusual and disturbing punishment (that includes her two boys and some neighborhood children) that is really going to change David's life.

Most of its disturbing elements come from the fact that its 'based on true events' and that it never feels all that fictionalized. This feels as though it could have seriously happened. It's suburbian hell if there ever was one. The film accomplishes a lot on this end, giving an audience a situation that is both foreign (being its a time piece) and hits a little too close to home which is quite the combination as it turns out. The story is pretty riveting and its one of those films that will have you screaming at the TV for characters to do this or that. In that aspect it works.

Unfortunately, the film is so low budget that it comes off as a made for television film more often than not. Don't let the extensive use of the word 'fuck' or the brief scenes of nudity fool you, this still feels and looks like a made for TV movie. The credits are plain. The editing is plane Jane at best and even the music reeks of low budget. Luckily, some solid acting from some the adults and some decent performances from the children keep the story moving.

"The Girl Next Door" has ends very oddly. Despite its long slow burn build, the end of the film and resolution seem to come into a nice neat bow very quickly and very suddenly. Even the bookend narration from an older David, ends oddly and never seems to properly give the film and decline in action. This in itself made my watching experience a little less impactful as it could have been.

This film is disturbing in a lot of ways. In fact, at one point I had to shut it off and take a break because it was such a mind fuck. Unfortunately, I don't think the ending of the film had the pay off that it should have for what the content was and its low budget nature didn't blend so well with the subject matter. A unique film to say the least in its content that will leave you thinking about roles and how we treat others for days. Too bad I felt it could have been even better. 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

1 comment:

  1. Yes, this film, and the book of the same title that it was based on, was inspired by actual events. If you want to watch a movie that uses the real names of the people involved in the real life events, watch An American Crime with Ellen Page. If you want to read more about the case, look up Sylvia Likens on Wikipedia. On a side note, Joseph Mauceri, a good friend of mine, was one of the associate producers on the film.