The Girl Next Door (2007) Movie Review
Article by FisterRoboto of lefthandhorror.com
Written by Jack Ketchum (novel)
Screenplay by Daniel Farrands & Philip Nutma
The Girl Next Door is a 2007 horror film adaptation of the 1989 novel by Jack Ketchum. The film is loosely based on true events surrounding the torture and murder of Sylvia Likens by Gertrude Baniszewski during the summer of 1965.
Sweet. Thanks to this film I just hit my quota for fucked up relatives beating handicapped kids with toilet brushes while she makes the neighborhood kids watch. The weird camera angle of the little girl’s panties being pulled down over her leg braces really sealed the terrifying deal. If you think this is a movie for you, then keep reading. (I’m sure I just lost 89% 0f you)
I watch a lot of horror movies that are messed up. This movie is MESSED UP. If you choose to watch, remember that you’ve been warned twice.
The film’s protagonist is an adult remembering the terrible thing he experienced as a young child. David (Daniel Manche) lived next door to the most popular mom in his little piece of suburbia. The mom, Ruth, (Blanche Baker) is an alcoholic who just gained custody of her dead sister’s daughters, and quickly shows her brand of punishment is nothing more than a cruel and sadistic excuse to hurt the girls.
Equally disturbing is the fact that she invites her two young sons to both torture and rape the oldest daughter, Meg, portrayed by Blythe Auffarth. The act of torturing Meg starts off vanilla in the scheme of this sick view of suburban horror, but quickly goes to darker depths. Meg is bound and gagged for hours at a time, raped, and eventually has her most tender spot seared off with the blue flame of a blowtorch.
There is no redeeming moment in this film. No one is richer for the experience, and how the adult David grows up to be any type of a success is beyond me. This is simply an all too realistic glimpse into a horrible act that is based on true events. There is nothing supernatural in the film and the only monsters are Ruth, her family, and the neighborhood kids that want to see Meg raped and tortured. There is no real back story as to why Ruth is the way she is. She mentions how bad men and women are, alluding to the fact that she’s divorced for some very good reasons. Her twisted view of sexuality is constant throughout the film.
Stephen Kin rgecommended this film and for good reason. The acting, script, and cinematography are all top notch. The neighborhood looks like it could be right outside any of our front doors. It’s a dark contrast to the bright summer days during which the film occurs. Add this to your queue if you think you can watch someone slowly suffer until they eventually die. Or possibly worse, add this if you think you can watch the darkest, cruelest actions of humanity take center stage.
My thoughts exactly. It’s very disturbing because it’s very real. Anyone who wants to be spooked by reality instead of fictional monsters should give this one a try.
For an horror movie, it is actually quite good. It stood out as one of the best that came across me in quite a few time. Now, I feel that I should critcize it because it had the potential of being elevated to an horror movie cult masterpiece, if maybe it had gone a bit more out of the safety path. Firstly, I think the director of photography should have kept the pastel tone colours throughout the entire movie – not only would it have contrasted with the sadistic way the plot developed, it would have added a disturbing, surburbian sense of unstable calmness. Secondly, there should have been more character density and differentiation – perhaps getting a glimpse to why Ruth acts the way she does and differentiate the kids, they all seem to have a standard uniform reaction throughout the movie. Thirdly, in order to twistedly play a bit more with our (spectator) irrational child fears, they could have focused a bit more on emotional violence and the authority figure that Ruth represents to the kids.
I am usually not so critical of horror movies but this is one of the cases I felt it was inches close to becoming a landmark, had they played a bit off the book.