Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Good Neighbor (2016)

 Kasra Farahani


Mark Bianculli
Jeff Richard


James Caan
Logan Miller
Keir Gilchrist
Anne Dudek
Laura Innes
Edwin Hodge
Mindy Sterling
Bailey Noble
Lili Reinhart
Tamlyn Tomita


Ethan and Sean are two high-school friends who decide to secretly prank their elderly neighbour. The neighbour is known around the neighbourhood as being the old drunk who is unsociable and unapproachable.
 They believe that he is responsible for killing his wife. The prank will be a social experiment by creating the illusion that his house is haunted too scare him and see how he reacts. Little do they realise that they may uncover something much darker with their neighbour.

Based on the trailer for The Good Neighbor, I went into this movie thinking that I had it in the bag. I thought I knew exactly how this film was going to play out. It felt like the sort of story that I had seen a hundred times already when it came to these types of thrillers. The premise felt very similar to other movies in recent years. It didn't help that The Good Neighbor was another movie using the Found-Footage gimmick to tell its story. I expected to walk out of this and absolutely hating it due to predictability.

Regarding the premise of Good Neighbor, I was right with my original thoughts that I had seen this type of film many times before. The film has elements of Rear Window and Disturbia. The movies only new addition that felt original for me was the found footage angle. The rest of the story felt like a familiar retread of the two films that I mentioned above. They all have their own spin on the story but all in all, I felt like I seen this before.

It's well known that I find found-footage of late to be a style that I'm not exactly fond of in my horror films. The found footage element of Good Neighbor is where it sees its most significant differences from films like Rear Window and Disturbia. I thought the addition of the two teenage friends who illegally film their neighbour and prank him by rigging up his house to appear as if it's haunted to be kind of interesting. It adds another dynamic to what is mostly a familiar premise. I was actually enjoying this element of the story.

I thought that The Good Neighbor had an Exorcism Of Emily Rose vibe to it as well. While being a thriller at its core, the movie is intercut with a courtroom drama that adds to the story as it builds towards the final twist. The courtroom scenes hint at what these two teenagers may or may not have done to their elderly neighbour. It adds a little something more than just the prank and trying to prove their grumpy neighbour is a possible murderer. Being told in a non-linear fashion will keep people on their toes.

The twist is my favourite part of The Good Neighbor. This is a reveal that I think half the people will either love or absolutely hate just based on where it ends up landing. I thought the film was building to something really dark. I expected the movie to have our elderly neighbour turn homicidal due to him believing that his house was haunted. I couldn't have been more wrong. The fact that the film goes in a completely different direction will annoy a lot of genre fans.

What the twist does is that it lends the movie this kind of poignant end that I didn't expect. I said that I thought this was going to go to some dark places and instead, it flips the entire film on its head. It will subvert most audience members expectations. Instead of the people that we think we'll be rooting for and wanting to see survive the ordeal, it's entirely thrown out of the window. I found myself doing a complete one-eighty by the time the film revealed its switch-up. My jaw was left wide open and on the floor.

Now onto the acting. This is James Caan's show. The man is a talented actor. He may not make 'Godfather' or 'Misery' type masterpieces these days, but he certainly adds a sort of class to any film that he stars in. His final scenes killed me. Logan Miller and Keir Gilchrist as the two teens also deliver decent performances. I found Logan Miller to be the more annoying role, but I think it's written to be. Both actors are talented enough, and I liked their roles.

Lastly, I think the film was somewhat polished. Kasra Farahani has crafted a beautiful looking movie. We don't have any of that terrible shaky-cam camera work when it comes to the found footage elements. The movie looked great when it switches back to standard film. The movie isn't big on the suspense or gore. The film isn't exactly horrifying either. I don't think this was going for a jump scare type of movie. It's not so much thrilling as I found the story more intriguing.



- Someone shoots themselves in the head.

The Good Neighbor will never be seen as an original or groundbreaking movie. It's a movie that feels very similar to a lot of other films with this type of story. What I liked about the film was the switch-up in the third act. The twist will divide audiences. The film chooses to bring the film to a close on a poignant note instead of going down the suspected dark path. I think this is saved by the reveal. The film also has a fantastic leading performance by James Caan.

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