Next Door review by The Grim Ringler

Lets face it, when it comes to describing the directorial style of a director and their film its very easy and all too popular to bandy about the oh, their film is so Somethingian and while it can be true, it can also be a copout. Ah, well, friends, as much crap as it is to say that, sometimes it is true. While I wont call this effort Polanskian Next Door reminds me strongly of some of director Roman Polanskis earlier films. Thats the easy way out though, so let me explain.

Next Door is the story of a simple, unassuming man living in the city. He rents a moderately sized flat in Norway, has a beautiful girlfriend, and a job that he likes. Naturally, this cant last. Things seem to begin falling apart for John when his girlfriend breaks up with him and leaves him for another man. His memory seems to be a haze though as he cant recall why they broke up, but is certain it was nothing serious. His heartbreak compounds itself when his ex comes by to pick up the last of her things, her new boyfriend waiting outside for her in case there is trouble. What trouble - John thinks. Crestfallen, John tries to slide back into the routines of his life, but something seems different. Perhaps its the new neighbors, two beautiful women that live next door to him but whom he has never noticed before. He meets both women when he is returning home day and is asked to assist one of them in moving something. The women, secretive and inquisitive, are not the only mysteries though, as their apartment appears to be far larger than it should be, with doors and hallways that twist and turn and lead to rooms where none belong. This bothers John but not enough to keep him from being attracted to the quiet sister, Kim. John is asked to watch Kim one day while Anne goes to the store to get her some medication, and he agrees, though reluctantly. According to Anne, Kim was sexually attacked by the last tenant of his apartment and doesnt like to be left alone. When he hears some loud noise coming from next-door John goes over to investigate and Kim is alone, but far from ok. She locks him inside her apartment and then hides from him within one of the many rooms. All of this leads to a tense cat and mouse chase until John can finally confront Kim and try to get to the bottom of what is going on. She proceeds to seduce him, telling an erotic story about herself that turns out to be a lie, and when he gets close to her, she punches him. Having had enough, John gets up to leave but Kim lures him back with more sexual teasing, and again, as soon as he gets near her, she punches him. All of this leads inevitably to one of the most twisted sex scenes I can recall where both people pummel one another brutally while engaging in sex. After its over, John is sickened and shamed by the sight of himself in the mirror. He cant get over the idea that he was turned on by hurting her. This act though opens more memories of his ex and raises more questions as to what really happened between them. The next day though, despite her interest at the time, Kim has told her sister that she was attacked by John and she has the bruises to prove it. Something is wrong next door, and with the women there, but he cant seem to keep away from them, or the obsession he has concerning his ex-girlfriend. Hes missing something, some detail, and some clue as to what he isnt remembering. The truth seems to lay next door though, and with what the women living there seem to know, but that truth may come with a price his sanity.

A surreal film experience, from the outset, something feels wrong. The music, the acting, and the direction all work to create unease and distrust in what were seeing. We know something is wrong, that we dont know the whole story, but we cant quite figure out what it is. This is a dangerous way to present a film letting us know that theres something afoot, a trick, a lie, a scheme and a lot of filmmakers have fallen prey to this trap. In Next Door the trap is well crafted and, while we can slowly get an idea about what is going on, it isnt until the very end that the magnitude of it all becomes clear. The sex scene is brutal, but so is the slowly surfacing truth, though its brutality is the kind that is quiet, but speaks the loudest in the heart.

The film is beautifully made and, as I said earlier, echoes the early films of Polanski. Next Door doesnt ape him though but pays homage to the dark emotional ground he examined in earlier films. There is a certain familiarity with the plot and the story, once its reached its conclusion but along the way its a damned good mystery. The DVD image isnt perfectly clean, due to the same old problem of the disparity in European film stocks, but the movie looks good and sounds very good. I cant really tell you how the extras are, as they didnt work on the version I received to review, but even if all you get is the film its a pretty good deal.

Next Door is a very smart, and very grim tale and is one that shouldnt be overlooked by fans of horror or just fans of a good mystery.


7 out of 10 Jackasses
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