Film Review: The Neighbour

The Neighbour

The Neighbour is an adequately tense thriller from director Marcus Dunstan. The film shifts in genre, with some aspects more successful than others.

John and Rosie live remotely in Cutter, Mississippi. When a neighbour appears, the pair are suspicious. After an incident, John decides to investigate what is happening in his neighbour’s house…

Director and co-writer Marcus Dustan is delivers a film that is engaging for the most part. The Neighbour has enough mystery in its first third to keep viewers guessing. The film takes obvious cues from Hitchcock’s Rear Window in its set up. Dunstan then subverts pre-conceived perceptions by shifting things around. The film reveals a surprising incident fairly early on in proceedings. This leads to a transformation of genre. The film keeps a suitable level of tension, although how this is generated does change.

In the second half of the film, the narrative takes an interesting turn. Here, the genre shifts from thriller to action. This dissipates much of the tension, although The Neighbour never becomes boring. In its climax, the genre transforms again, leaving a torture-pornesque finale. It is a shame, as the film begins rather well. Dunstan harks back to his The Collector roots doing this, and the result does not feel satisfying.

The film’s setting is good, giving a necessary undercurrent of isolation and untrustworthiness. The stylist opening and closing credits are also a plus. It is a shame, however, that these same effects were employed in the driving sequences. The Neighbour looks best in its interior scenes. Some of the exterior sequences, particularly the brightly-lit night scene at the end, highlight the limitations of shooting on digital.

Performances from the main cast of Josh Stewart, Alex Essoe, and Bill Engvall are believable enough. The Neighbour offers good atmospherics and a decent amount of tension. Although perfectly watchable, it is a shame that the strong first third is not carried through to the end.

The Neighbour is out on DVD on 31st October 2016.

Film Review: The Collector

Another year, another highly questionable entry in the torture-porn sub-genre. The Collector offers little originality, little fear, and sadly little entertainment.

So that the mother of his child is able to pay off her debt to loan sharks, Arkin breaks into his employer’s home, to steal a valuable jewel. When he gets inside however, he realises he is not alone…

There are multiple plot holes in The Collector, which generates little appreciation for the story. Even pushing these aside, the crux of the narrative appears to be geared solely on getting Arkin inside the house, and keeping him there, in order for him to see and experience gruesome incidents.

With the lack of an interesting story and very limited character development, it is hard to really care about the fate of the protagonist. Coupled with this is the lack of exposition on the killer carrying out such awful crimes. Whilst director Marcus Dunstan may have been aiming for mystery as the desired effect, the result is actually an air of laziness in the development of this film.

Gore and brutality is not necessarily a bad thing in horror movies. Nevertheless, the graphic imagery in a film should be accompanied by a worthwhile storyline, or at least some amusement. Drag Me to Hell is a good example of a film that successfully combines the abject with amusement and some moments of terror. Sadly, The Collector mixes its gore with neither humour nor any real sense of terror.

The acting in the film is passable. The cinematography offers a grainy and muted quality similar to the Saw films and Hostel. Whilst the effects in The Collector appear quite realistic, the film nonetheless offers little to its audience, other than gore and exasperation.