Director – Gregory Wilson
Cast – Blythe Auffarth, Daniel Manche, Blanche Baker, Grand Show, Graham Patrick Martin, Benjamin Ross Kaplan, Austin William, William Atherton
Release Year – 2007
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a film I had been reading on for quite some time, but could never get my hands on it reasonably. I was finally able to view this film and all I can say after finishing this piece is “WOW.”. Not an overly excited wow, but just a shocked and disbelieving “WOW.”. Based on the novel by Jack Ketchum, which is based on true events I will explain later in the review, this flick is a shocker that is sure to leave itself imprinted on your mind for quite some time.
The Girl Next Door follows two sisters who recently lost their parents in an accident. The older of the two sisters, Meg(Blythe Auffarth), came out of the accident with a few scars. Her younger sister Susan(Madeline Taylor) unfortunately came out of the accident in a much more crippling condition, and has contracted polio. The girls are sent to live in a quiet suburban country town with their Aunt Ruth(Blanche Baker) and her young sons. The rest of the film tells the story of the unspeakable events and baseless punishments the aunt puts the two girls through and the struggle of a young boy who tries but cannot succeed at helping them.
I can honestly say that I have not seen a film this horrific in a very long time. This film is like Cannibal Holocaust but without trying to be Cannibal Holocaust. We don’t get immense gore in this film, and that is what really shocked me. How is it that a film with very little gore can be so downright disturbing? Easy, it is executed properly and is very well written. Only his second film, director Gregory Wilson did an amazing job with this film and with the message it meant to convey. Much like Frank Darabont’s The Mist, this film WILL PISS YOU OFF! Now is that a good thing? Not really, I don’t like being pissed off BUT I do have immense respect for films that move you that much. This film’s intention is to anger you, and it succeeds greatly at what it sets out to do. This is not one of those hard-to-watch flicks that only throws in such horrific scenes simply to supply the viewer with baseless torture porn. No, this flick uses such scenes to show just what the young girl went through at the hands of some of the cruelest people to make the silver screen. I applaud this film’s director for having to guts to include what he did, and this film’s two writers Daniel Ferrands(who wrote Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers) and Philip Nutman also get credit for this film’s gutsy nature by including the acts that occurred in the novel and in real life.
Real life? Yes, REAL LIFE. The novel this film is based on is based on the true events that occurred in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1965. 16 year old Sylvia Likens was brutally assaulted and tortured to death by her caretaker and a few of her cohorts her parents had entrusted her with during their three month absence as traveling carnies. I could go into more detail, but I’ll leave that up to you if you decide to look further into this case. Here is the Wikipedia link, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvia_Likens.
Is it surprising to you as it is to me that a horror film that claims to be “based on true events” is ACTUALLY based on true events? Time and time again we get films that claim to be “based” or “inspired” by events that occurred somewhere in time, but this is usually just a marketing gimmick or AT THE VERY MOST the film is only based on 10 percent of the story it claims to be based on. Example: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre claiming to be inspired by true events, particularly of the serial killer Ed Gein who would dig up corpses and use their skin and other body parts for various uses. Gein never chased anyone with a chainsaw. Never.
Now you will notice some differences between this film and the story it is based on, but the differences are small and are in fact needed in order to help the film appeal to the viewer. As far as the actual plot is concerned, this film is dead accurate. I really liked how the young boy named “David” was added to the story, and his conflict in the film is felt by the viewer. You see the toll these events take on the young boy, and his struggles to betray his friends(who not only outnumber him but are mostly older than him as well) and get help from the young girls.
I have no major complaints for this flick, although I felt the film’s conclusion(in flashback mode) was not very satisfying. Sure it did not follow the actual events that took place, but after all the torment and turmoil we were forced to sit though, I wanted to see some awesome vengeance and redemption.
Overall, this is a positive watch that I dare all horror fans to sit through and not squirm in their seats. Not only is this flick not for the squeamish, but it sends powerful message and shows just how savage some people can be.