30th Nov2016

‘The Neighbour’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Josh Stewart, Alex Essoe, Bill Engvall, Melissa Bolona, Luke Edwards, Jaqueline Fleming, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Skipp Sudduth, David Kallaway | Written by Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton | Directed by Marcus Dunstan

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It’s safe to say I’m a fan of the films of Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton. Between them, the duo have written and/or directed some fun fear flicks: Feast and it’s sequels (which I truly adore), Saw 4 – 7 and the fantastic pairing of The Collector and The Collection. It’s been four years since the latter film, their last feature, and now they’re back with The Neighbour – which also marks the THIRD time the filmmakers have worked with actor Josh Stewart.

Set in Cutter, Mississippi, The Neighbour follows two small-time drug-traffickers, John (Stewart) and Rosie (Essoe), who operate a weigh station next door to their creepy, hunting-obsessed neighbour, Troy. Planning to leave their drug-dealing life behind, John and Rosie decide to double-cross their boss, and John’s “uncle”, Neil, and skip town. However whilst John is making one final run to his uncle’s, Rosie sees something she shouldn’t next door. When John returns home after obtaining enough getaway cash, he finds Rosie missing. Seeing her telescope pointing at their neighbour’s farmhouse, he elects to investigate, but soon discovers a terrifying and sinister secret.

And that secret is… they’re up to something inside the house, just like the villain in The Collector/The Collection. Yes, it seems Melton and Dunstan just can’t seem to leave their “home-invaders finds terrible things happening in the home he’s just invaded” format alone and churn out yet another variation on the now-familiar plot here!

And that’s the thing. For all intents and purposes, The Neighbour just feels like a “remake” of The Collector without all the booby traps. Instead, we get a psychopath family tormenting Josh Stewart! However in a turn about of events, Melton and Dunstan don’t just rely on Josh Stewart to carry the film and the action (as he did in the two Collector movies). This time round the pair aallow their female leads: Alex Essoe and Melissa Bolona; who plays one of Troy’s kidnapped victims, Sarah; to take centre stage and kick plenty of bad guy arse! The villainous family are also given a spotlight too, in particular Bill Engvall, who many will know more for his comedy performances in movies and mainly on TV, as psychopath Troy. His performance, despite not being on screen for too much time, is the films real surprise – but then funny men often make for great monsters…

Of course coming from the kings of the sequel, things are left open for another movie, as the film constantly shows us footage from the perspective of “someone” else watching through a camera and Troy, when confronted by John, references a “they” and that “they are coming…” Not that anyone will be clamouring for another film franchise based on this outing – which feels little more than a retread of Melton and Dunstan’s other films, with added extraneous plot, rather than a film in its own right.

The Neighbour is out now on DVD.

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