Arrow films certainly know how to pick them! The ‘Neighbour’ is essentially a 90-minute exercise in tension, executed by an outstanding cast and an array of varied and brutal set pieces.
The synopsis sees a drug runner and his gal caught up in their neighbours violent and exploitative kidnapping scam. Once our protagonist finds out what is going on, he quickly finds himself both outnumbered and outgunned. A tense game of cat-and-mouse ensues until ‘The Neighbour’ turns convention on its head; and the usual hapless victim and ruthless killer’s scenario steps aside as the typical homestead set becomes nothing short of a battleground.
As the brief synopsis indicates this movie is as linear as can be, so much so that in its initial half an hour, whilst I was enjoying it, I couldn’t really see where it was going. Then when it does get going it grinds through the gears at such a rate of knots that the end credits finally allow you to take that breath you’ve been needing for the last hour!
Through the simplicity of story the characters are allowed to develop at their own pace, which means that at the crux of the third act you really give a damn about their plight. The acting really is outstanding on all accounts, and the unusual set of characters, all of whom in other films could actually be considered bad guys (save a couple of innocents) give the film more scope than other films cut from the same cloth. The film is very claustrophobic, the location – namely the titular neighbours house, and its myriad of underground rooms play havoc with your senses. The outdoor environments are equally suffocating with a struggling town battling as much with economic disparity as it is with dust and heat. In the earlier parts of the film the internal locations see a set piece which is nail bitingly tense, whereas later some dynamic lighting, smoke effects and weapon fire turns the same corridors into close quarter battle grounds. In either guise, it doesn’t leave much room for the viewer to catch a break. For all its lack of detail in the plot department, I haven’t felt this exhilarated by a film for a good while, and again, there is just something about this movies simplicity which allows you to just get sucked in and focus on the ‘now’ rather than waiting for the big reveal or trying to keep up with inconsequential subplots.
As with the story, the threat in the movie takes time to develop, and whilst I certainly won’t ruin it for you, there was a moment when I thought it was going to descend into true ‘torture-porn’ territory, but somehow the movie tends to imply brutality worse than what is perhaps shown on the screen. Again, with such outstanding atmosphere generated by dropping ‘real’ characters into a close knit snake pit, it would perhaps be something of a shame to ruin it with fantasy based gory executions. That said, it’s by no means a lightweight in the gore department either and there are some nasty scenes to be enjoyed throughout. Despite the movies more thriller-esk bias, this is far more brutal than your average tension movie.
Overall, to say anymore would risk ruining the experience for you. We often find that sometimes the shortest reviews are for films which in themselves ‘do the talking’. The Neighbour is out now in selected cinemas and VOD – guess what you should be watching this weekend?