July 28th, 2009 12:17:00
An unnamed woman prowls the streets of an upper middle class neighbourhood, letting herself into people’s homes and offering them her company. But things don’t usually end well for her hosts.
The woman is spunky, beautiful, and unnaturally happy. Especially when she’s having slumber parties with dead teenagers, causing old ladies to have heart attacks, and drilling holes through the limbs of unsuspecting bachelors. She’s a sociopath who’s mastered the art of charm; destructive and anarchistic, simultaneously random and calculated.
As with many sociopaths, she is host to some idiosyncrasies: she panics at the sight of her own blood, hyperventilating at the slightest cut, but the blood and pain of others has no effect on her other than inciting a morbid scientific curiosity (exemplified by her overt reference to the dentist in MARATHON MAN, jokingly asking the protagonist “Is it safe?”. as she revs up the powerdrill). But the movie references don’t end there: her dialogue incorporates quotes from MISERY, JAWS and more, leading us to believe that she’s spent a fair amount of time in front of a screen, lapping up imagery and behavioural reinforcement from classic horror films.
The film features some innovative, shocking gore, but there’s nothing fun about it, despite how much fun our villain seems to be having; it’s nasty stuff. Where most films would cut away, NEIGHBOR keeps going, revelling in the bloody details. The film has invited comparisons to Miike’s AUDITION, but it’s less obvious here why the girl chooses this particular neighbourhood, or these particular victims, and we also don’t know how long she’s been there - we only know it’s been more than a few weeks. But there are hints of jealousy – she comments on the bachelor having a big house all to himself, and in every home she plays house - making tea and food, showering, watching TV, with no worry of being caught.
TV news reports indicate that there is a killer on the loose – another killer, not our girl - an escapee from a nearby institution, and the whole community is buzzing about it. But it still doesn’t make them lock their doors. People are so willing to trust a pretty face.
NEIGHBOR is also a movie about masculinity, how men are defeated by women in one way or another – whether castrated by marriage, punished with physical torture, or haunted by memories and regrets. But the film also points out – through interesting structural techniques – that the fear of being dominated by a woman, or having one’s identity compromised by commitment to a relationship, are symbolic fears that pale in comparison to meeting a torture-happy stranger with a toolbox.
- Kier-La Janisse
NEIGHBOR has its world premiere at Fantasia on Tuesday July 28 at 9:45pm in the Hall Theatre with Director Robert Masciantonio and members of the cast in person.
Full details, including description, images, trailer, website and more on the film page HERE.