Wednesday, December 21, 2016
THE NEIGHBOR (2016)
Directed By: Marcus Dunstan
Written By: Marcus Dunstan & Patrick Melton
Cinematography By: Eric Leach
Editor: Andrew Wesman
Cast: Bill Engvall, Josh Stewart, Alex Essoe, Luke Edwards, Skip Sudduth, Jaqueline Fleming
In the town of Cutter, most people keep to themselves. But when John comes home to find his girlfriend missing, he becomes suspicious and sneaks into his neighbor's house. What he finds there is unnerving, to say the least. Will he escape the house alive or become another victim?
A blue collar thriller.
This is the third time director Marcus Dunstan has worked with Josh Stewart in the lead.
I applaud the film as it aspires to be a nice little crime thriller that involves misdirection and a sort of honor amongst thieves aesthetic.
As the first third of the film plays more like a slick but small crime drama. That as the movie goes along introduces the other characters who become important for the rest of the film.
Not as familiar or basic as a Jason Statham action procedural but becoming familiar enough to start recognizing it.
The film is more of a thriller rather than an horror film as it might come off as. As all the elements are there they just never add up to much excitement. The mood stays way too subdued and cool. It might just be if you have seen so many of these types of films. You are too used to them and this might be an eye opener to others, but it feels like it doesn't offer anything new.
The casting of stand-up Bill Engvall feels like stunt casting to bring in his audience as well as showcase him in a different type of role and he does play the role well. Though one would expect his character to be a bit more dangerous than he appears here. He's tough but not as intimidating as he first seems.
At first this film feels like familiar territory with the theme of trying to escape a residence. That there isn't as booby trapped so it stays more in the believable realm as more having to avoid the predator more than anything. Though not nearly as violent as the writer/directors THE COLLECTOR films.
I can understand them going for a more subdued and adult type film, but they also leave the film less exciting. Though the score at numerous points tries to overplay or at least direct the tension. It feels like an overplay and just too much.
Though there are a bunch of scenes where the violence seems more graphic than it needs to be to play it up more including a handcuff scene that seems like it will be more gory but ends up being tame. More wanting to test the audiences anticipation.
I really wanted to like the film, but found myself constantly letting my mind wander. As most of the film is predictable even the few surprises it offers. Plays it's hand too open.
Though it could play like a terror house thriller it more goes for a slasher feel. With not too many victims and the deaths less intimate and far away so they feel almost impersonal. Though the filmmakers try so hard to not repeat themselves in certain aspects that they actually end up not seeing the many things that are familiar.
I enjoy the actors and their performances but Josh Stewart's lead could practically be the same character from THE COLLECTOR or his twin brother to explain the new circumstances and girlfriend.
It's a shame as both sides of this film could have been their own and more than what they ultimately are together.
The ending seems to offer the suggestion of something bigger. Which would be something if proven right and the movie is successful enough.
I would also hope it there was a sequel they throw caution to the wind and make a more effective and involving thriller.