Neighbor is the kind of film that defenders of the so-called "torture-porn" genre have been waiting for. It would be very easy to be dismissive of a film such as this because of all that have come before it, but "neighbor" requires a deeper analysis.
First is the inclusion of character development. Whereas any previous entry in this genre have discarded or ignored any kind of depth in their characters, "neighbor" has gone out of its way to make three likable protagonists in its small-time band mates. Christian Campbell plays the lead, and his everyman good looks and charm can easily lead an audience member to grow fond of him within his first few moments of screen time.
The characters are not given the amount of depth that the characters on LOST have, but they make sense, and that is all that matters. You grow to like these characters even with their flaws (Don does drugs, Sam can be kind of creepy at times, etc).
And then you feel so so SO horrible for them as they go through their unfortunate circumstances throughout this film. This isn’t Hostel, where one barely gives a rats behind over what happens to any of the three womanizing and boorish American tourists. This isn’t SAW where you have an ensemble of unknown entities being tortured one by one.
What writer/director Masciantonio has done is craft a movie where you want to reach into the screen and SAVE these characters. And he has also created a shift in time/consciousness in the film that may confuse those who are not giving the movie their full attention. I found it very easy to figure out what was going on, however I can understand that some people may be thrown on a first viewing.
One of the main reasons there are so many bad horror movies out there is that they are very cheap to make (relative to other films) and they make their money back easily most of the time. Any idiot can make a horror film, but when somebody with a true vision has a reason and a drive to make a good one, it can transcend the genre and become something better. Masciantonio’s work on this film reminds me of David Cronenberg in many ways. You have the cerebral story element mixed with pure body horror. This is Masciantonio’s "Scanners." It is low budget and it isn’t very polished, but it may be a sign of good things to come.
Finally, America Olivo might just play the scariest serial killer since Hannibal Lecter.
About Neighbor (2010)
Starring: Barry Corbin, Andrew Sensenig, Jonathan Brooks, Kelly Wick, Andy Russell, Martin Ezelle, Catherine Gutting, Jennifer Green, Ivy Caldwell, Zakk Jackson, Jason Wrigth, Jason Baumgardner, Bonita, Jenny Durbin, Ryan Harper Gray, Garrett Schenck, Dennis O'Neill, Vernon Reeves
Director: Zach Smith