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Director: Robert Angelo Masciantonio
Writer: Robert Angelo Masciantonio
Starring: America Olivo, Christian Campbell & Lauren Rooney
Neighbor is the latest low budget edition to the ‘torture-porn’ sub-genre, which I must admit I really dislike. I’ve got something against going to the cinema to watch someone get slowly tortured, it does nothing for me except make me feel a bit sick and give me a headache. However, I was willing to give this a try despite any misgivings I might have had on reading up on it in the festival programme.
Neighbor tells the story of a young attractive woman (America Olivo) who moves from house to house in a local neighbourhood, torturing and killing the inhabitants along the way. The film mainly focuses on the torture of Don (Christian Campbell), a local bachelor with woman troubles and a basement recording studio used by him and his bandmates – very useful for prolonged loud torture scenes of course.
It’s a film with little substance, the characters are given back-stories but these aren’t particularly well developed. The writer/director tries to make things a bit more interesting by messing with some time shifting and dream sequences part way through the film, but far too much time is spent on this segment, ruining the tension and drama of the film’s core. By the end you feel too confused and short-changed by some twists to really care about what will happen to the protagonist.
That said, the torture scenes are well handled at least, with some really original and very nasty ideas thrown in there. The make-up effects are particularly impressive for a film of it’s budget too. Ultimately though, because you don’t care so much for Don’s fate and because the villain’s performance lacks bite, you never feel that horrified by proceedings. From listening to the producer’s Q&A after the film it sounds like it was never meant to be all that horrifying though, it’s supposed to be nastily entertaining, but to be honest it left me feeling a bit bored. Torture-porn junkies might have a better time, but for me I can take it or leave it.
Reviewed by David Brook