31 Days Of Horror #30: The Neighbour (2016)

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From the people who brought you The Collector and The Collection, here is another bit of grisly horror, once again putting actor Josh Stewart in some dire circumstances. He plays John, a man who spends his time, alongside his wife (Rosie, played by Alex Essoe), running various smuggling operations on behalf of his uncle (Skipp Sudduth). John and Rosie have a plan. They want to raise enough money to then allow themselves to start a new life. John’s uncle may not be too happy about that. And things might be complicated by an observant neighbour (Bill Engvall), although he just might be up to something even more nefarious.

Stewart and Essoe are fine in their roles, with the former able to turn his game up a few notches in the second half of the movie. Engvall makes for an effective potential baddie, tentatively trying to size up his neighbours in one particularly memorable conversation, and Sudduth is a threatening presence in the few scenes that he has. There are some other people in the cast, but it’s these four who are at the centre of the main plot machinations.

The general premise here is a good one. Scripted by Marcus Dunstan, who also directs, and Patrick Melton, it’s something that’s loaded with potential twists and intrigue. Unfortunately, that only lasts until the halfway mark, at which point any subtlety is cast aside for the sake of a simple, rather formulaic, game of cat and mouse. Which is a great shame, considering the many options they could have gone with. That doesn’t mean that there’s anything here that’s technically wrong either. It’s all put together competently enough. There’s just nothing to make it stand out. The thrills aren’t as thrilling as they should be. There aren’t any decent twists. There’s very little actual horror. Even the bloodshed feels a bit tame to anyone who has recently been put through the wringer by someone like Jeremy Saulnier, for example. What you end up with is a decent bit of dark drama with a cast all giving solid performances.

If you enjoyed both The Collector and The Collection then you may well enjoy this. Just be aware that this is a different beast, with one or two moments seemingly created to trick you into thinking that it’s just like those films. This is a decent way to kill just under 90 minutes. But I don’t think any of us will remember it a year from now.

DIRECTOR: MARCUS DUNSTAN
WRITER: MARCUS DUNSTAN, PATRICK MELTON
STARS: JOSH STEWART, ALEX ESSOE, BILL ENGVALL, SKIPP SUDDUTH, RONNIE GENE BLEVINS
RUNTIME: 87 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: USA

Film Rating: ★★★☆☆

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