Director – Jacob Tierney
Cast – Jay Baruchel, Scott Speedman, Emily Hampshire, Anne-Marie Cadieux, Diane D’Aquila, Xavier Dolan, Clara Furey, Kaniehtiio Horn
Release Year – 2011
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Good Neighbors was recommended to me as an engaging horror film with a unique serial-killer element going on, and that was really the only reason I decided to dive into this Canadian thriller, one that resulted in much disappointment on my end. This is by no means a bad film, but it IS a pretty bad “horror film” due to how much the storyline leaves to be desired. It could be the victim of poor advertising looking to bring on the $$$ in the horror/thriller genres, or maybe writer/director Jacob Tierney just failed to give the film an identity.
When a series of grisly murders leave a small Canadian city on edge over fear of a serial-killer lurking among them, newcomer Victor and his two neighbors Spencer and Louise find themselves on edge and living in constant suspicion when evidence points that the killer may be living among them.
Sounds like a pretty cool horror experience right? Well if the storyline actually followed this plot summary then it would have been a good one, but sadly this is one case where “there is so much more to the story than meets the eye” worked against the film. I love horror films that give us characters in closely knit spaces and this one does that by setting the story in an apartment complex. Sadly much of the film plays on our characters instead of the actual horror, giving us the usual quirky tidbits associated with “indie” films of this “dark” nature. We follow Victor as he begins to fall for the unlikable Louise, much to the behest of their neighbor (and Louise’s confidante) Spencer. The serial-killer element plays here and there, but we never see him/her actually kill anyone – instead we are just forced to witness the psychological impact the killings have on our protagonists. This is not so bad for a drama, but for a horror/thriller you have got to give me more than just that. Thankfully Tierney did manage to write in an amazing kill sequence that was one I had yet to see used in the genre and one that consisted of some pretty brutal material, and that is the only reason this film is not receiving a lower rating. There are numerous twists and turns that about during this piece, some that bring on a bit of tension and others that simply increase the drama involved, but in the end Tierney’s storyline was a bit too complicated and left too many things wide-open. Sure it creates debate among those who watch it, but this was done in unfavorable and bland fashion.
Thankfully Tierney’s direction is pretty damn good, giving us awesome visuals and perfect atmosphere for the film this one TRIES to be. The sets were great and added to the somewhat claustrophobic feel felt at times, and the tension he employed was good despite how short-lived it was. We get good acting performances from all involved, however some were truly unlikable and I have a strong feeling that that was exactly how Tierney wanted them to come off. His execution of the main kill sequence mentioned earlier was fantastic and shot in pretty brutal fashion, and had the rest of the film consisted of such subject matter this would have been an incredible experience, but of course that was far from the case here.
Overall, Good Neighbors is a film that tries to be many things and fails when it comes to the horror film it claimed to be. The horror that we do get is strong and pretty awesome to watch, but the storyline provides little horror and along with the unengaging character play we are left with a flick that could have been great but instead wound up one I’d rather not watch again.