Monday, February 16, 2009

Review: Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door

Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door (2007)
Genre: Horror
Format: DVD
Director: Gregory Wilson

This film is an adaptation of Jack Ketchum's novel of the same name that in itself is based on the shocking murder of teenager Sylvia Likens in the 1960s. For those who are not familiar with that murder case, this movie would probably be even more shocking than it is intended to be. Those who are familiar with it however will find that the changes made in both events and names are brilliantly altered to make what's already horrifying in the first place much more horrific without being disrespectful to the true story that inspires it.

The movie takes place in the 1950s and is narrated through the eye of a boy who is unfortunate enough to be involved in the whole tragedy. David is a good friend to the three boys living next door to him. His friends' mother, Ruth, just inherited two young girls from her sister who recently died in a car accident. From the very beginning, there is something not quite right about Ruth as shown by the type of conversations she would have with her sons and David himself. Soon, the seemingly unstable Ruth starts to abuse the two girls and the severity of her despicable acts escalate into a truly perverted, unspeakable frenzy.

I didn't expect much from this viewing and the movie ended up being one of the most disturbing films I have ever watched. The unrelenting and unapologetic nature of the abuse scenes hit really hard when they start to appear even after a number of really terrible and odd things that took place during its exposition. It helps that the film uses the young David to frame the story because of the sense of utter helplessness the audience is exposed to. This movie must be difficult on the young actors involved because of the painful things that happen onscreen. Blanche Baker's depiction of Ruth is haunting and her progression from innocent kookiness to violent spookiness is magnificent. Hard to watch and even harder to forget, Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door proves that human evil is the worst because it is really the only form of evil that exists in this world.

RATING: 4 out of 5

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