The Neighbour, 2016.
Directed by Marcus Dunstan.
Starring Josh Stewart, Jaqueline Fleming, Alex Essoe, Bill Engvall, Luke Edwards, Melissa Bolona, Skipp Sudduth.
A married couple of low-level criminals looking to escape to a new life discover their next door neighbour is also up to no good.
From the creative team that brought you torture porn standouts The Collector and it’s even more demented sequel The Collection, The Neighbour is a more deliberately paced and restrained thriller that stars Marcus Dunstan regular Josh Stewart as John, a career criminal who, along with his wife Rosie (Alex Essoe – Tales of Halloween), work for local crime boss Neil (Skipp Sudduth – Ronin) switching the plates on cars for drug deals and hoping to make enough money to disappear from their life of crime. Living out in the sticks their nearest neighbour is Troy (Bill Engvall – Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!), whom the couple occasionally spy on through their telescope as he wanders around his land shooting rabbits. That is until he decides to come over to their house one evening and make his presence felt by letting John know that he knows what goes on inside his garage. After introducing himself to Rosie in a creepy fashion Troy leaves and things return to normal, that is until the next day when John goes out to meet with Neil. Upon his return Rosie is nowhere to found and Troy is busy outside digging up his garden, claiming that he saw her leave in a hurry. John knows better and soon discovers that Troy has secrets of his own.
Unlike the blood-soaked adrenaline rush of The Collector movies, The Neighbour is a slow-burning, tightly-wound film that is a little simple on plot but makes up for it with some excellent performances and a director who knows when to open the floodgates and when to hold back. Josh Stewart is mean and moody as John, a character that may be a bad guy due to his line of work and the circles he mixes in but from the off we know he has a heart as he cleans up a wound on a drug-running mother of a young toddler. His interactions with ‘Uncle’ Neil – Uncle because he took John under his wing when John’s father, a former employee, died – are also fraught with danger as Neil isn’t a character you want to mess with and isn’t afraid to take out his suspicions on John despite their bond, so early on we side with John and Rosie, who wants to do a runner with Neil’s money but John insists they give Neil his cut before they disappear. Bill Engvall, despite being known as a comic actor, also gives a mean and moody performance as Troy and you can totally buy his deadpan-but-threatening delivery when he comes over to size John up, and when the brown stuff hits the fan later on he still comes across as the biggest threat, despite having two henchmen sons who don’t really have that much to do throughout the film.
And it really is that simple as John and Troy play cat-and-mouse in the final act of the movie, the action again feeling quite restrained compared to the director’s previous works but that restraint helps keep the tension at a suitable level. The story never really goes anywhere unexpected once you get the idea of what Troy is up to and the side characters that are introduced, with the exception of Neil and the formidable Officer Burns (Jaqueline Fleming – RED), are all fairly generic and forgettable, even unnecessary in some cases, but overall The Neighbour has enough going for it to make it worth checking out if you’re a fan of the director or just in the mood for a home invasion-style thriller with little depth but a lot of style and some suspenseful moments.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★