Jan 13, 2008

Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door

This film got the best of me. I went into this film expecting a literary port of celebrated whiny autobiography called A Child Called It to the TV screen but my expectations were ravaged. This film not only made me sob in disgust but made me vow to never watch it again unless condemning my mother to the same fate. One could call this film soulless or unmerciful, some could call it a damn good movie. This film is not art, no. It is a normal big budget thriller, albeit with a bit of a blood thirst. Complete with its own faults and uninspired imagery, but this film isn't about that - It's about Meg.

David is a grown man, too grown I might add. Too grown including the fact that he has his regrets in the past. What a horrible thing to feel. Not just normal regrets. The regrets that nightmares are made of. We are shown this story through David's eyes. When he is a boy in the 50's, he is caught catching crayfish by the incredibly cheerful Meg, whom he quickly develops a friendship with. Her parents died in a car accident leaving her with many scars and a crippled sister named Susan.

After many encounters with her cousins who he is great friends with, he begins to notice horrible things from Aunt Ruth. Harrowing things, horrifying things, and appalling things. Things you wouldn't tell anyone and that is exactly what little David did. I dare not reveal too much about this film. Seeing as how many reviews give away vital information and how I went in knowing nothing, the effect is indeed granded. While being highly disturbing, the film does come short in necessary categories. The ending was missing a lot. It's one of those films that get caught up in the climax and don't give a shit about the resolution.

The amazing thing about this film is how well it captures the heart of a child. Playing with bugs, focusing on childish violence and playing in the woods are only the physical depictions of this visual maturity. Perhaps Jack Ketchum is recalling a personal experience, similar to that of the director of Summer Scars. Games are the main thing at hand, and of course pornography. So curious, but children's minds are incredibly malleable. We soon find this out as David's closest friends become apart of this sick and twisted game.

The Girl Next Door takes pride in watching you squirm. Do not expect a happy ending from this narcissistic, voyeuristic film. This is yet another film that seems to try to teach you how "ladies" should act. Of course, it is seen as the "wrong theme" of the film but it is pushed too much and too frequent". All in all, this is a good film that makes you feel a hell of a lot, but it doesn't make it an amazing cinematic achievement. Surburbia hell and hairspray hasn't been this fun since Blue Velvet.



Anonymous said...

I read the book and gave it away because I will never read a book like that again. I am debating if I really want to see the movie or not as I know how graphic the book was. Interesting review, sounds like horror at its finest, real, disturbing, out of place, down right horrifying. I felt for Meg so much while reading the book and I wonder if the movie will have the same effect. I will see it eventually, when I feel like I can finally stomach it. I am hoping more of Ketchums work turns into film. I know that RED is on the way and another excellent book that will make for a BRILLIANT film. Ketchum is one of the best in the business. Bring it on I say, I am so glad he is being recognised.

Anonymous said...

Nice review. This film is quite disturbing. I think the book is better, but the girl and the aunt are both fantastic. Ketchum is a very talented writer and nice guy.

Soiled Sinema said...

I'm looking forward to his new film adaption RED.
I have always been partial to dogs.