NEXT DOOR (NABOER)
Reviewed by: Serena Whitney
What's it about
A man named John (Kristoffer Joner) has just had a horrible breakup with his girlfriend Ingrid, (Anna Bache-Wiig) who has left him for another man. The same day, he meets two mysterious women who live in the apartment next door to him. As he befriends these women, John is pulled into a labyrinth full of lies, sex, and violence and even he doesn’t know what is real and what is not.
Is it good movie?
Before watching this film, I’ve heard many good things about this Norwegian psycho-thriller. I heard about the superior homages to Roman Polanski and David Lynch, the disturbing sex scene that made people leave theatres during a film festival, and a twist ending that would shock me to the core….don’t believe everything you hear. These points to me were actually what I considered the flaws of the movie, for these things didn’t really wow me in any particular way. I will delve into these points a little later.
The main character John, at first seems like a pitiful and heartbroken young man. He just broke up and had a huge fight with his long term girlfriend, although the audience is only revealed parts of the confrontation between the two ex lovers at the beginning of the film. After the fight, he promptly meets Kim and Anne, his neighbors who he has never met. These girls also seem to know all the painful details of his bad breakup with Ingrid. He watches Kim for awhile at her apartment, because her sister goes out to get medicine, and John quickly gets lost in their huge maze of an apartment. The viewers will immediately realize there’s something very off about these girls, and it is no coincidence these characters have entered poor John’s life.
This movie will be loved and hated. To be quite honest, I was apart of the latter group when I first watched this film. The ending or “so-called twist” was practically given away in the first five minutes. My friend who struggled to figure out the ending in Valentine, guessed the ending of this movie in two seconds flat. If you’ve seen The Tenant, Identity, The Machinist or if you are a horror buff in general, than you will have no problem figuring out the “twist.” (This is probably why the movie is so damn short…even the director knew the audience would figure it out quickly.)
By the end of the film, I was angry because I had thought there were plenty of plot holes, because there were so many unanswered questions. It wasn’t until my second viewing of the Naboer, that I was able to realize there were no plot holes, and the journey to the final frame was actually what makes this film a great cinematic experience.
All the actors did a great job. (Especially Kristoffer Joner) They provided enough subtext and depth to their characters to intrigue the viewers to keep watching. The most effective character in the film however would have to be the girl’s apartment itself. The labyrinth (that made me feel claustrophobic just watching John go through it) in the apartment played a key role, for it puts the audience in the same mind frame as John. From the moment he steps into the maze, you can’t tell what is real or what is not anymore.
The controversial sex scene where John and Kim beat each other up while having rough sex was disturbing on the first viewing, yet it wasn’t anything I lost sleep over. Unless I was in the theatres with my mother, I wouldn’t find any reason to walk out on it. (It’s no “Irreversible”) It’s not until you watch the film again when you are able to read between the lines and can differentiate what is real and what is not, that you are able to really know what’s going on, and you are able to see how creepy that scene really is.
Naboer may look like a pretentious, artsy-fartsy movie that doesn’t make any sense on the first viewing, but beneath the surface, it is actually an impressive and well-acted psycho-thriller. Although, it will take more than one viewing to realize that.
Video / Audio
Video is presented in anamorphic widescreen picture. The film looked very dark and gritty, which was perfect for the film.
Audio comes in Dolby 5.1 surround, and it sounded great. Norwegian with English subtitles.
Behind the Scenes Featurette: (15 minutes) Here we are given a short, but interesting behind the scene featurette of Naboer. The most interesting thing about this was that while filming, the crew had the soundtrack playing in the background on the set. It was used to get the actors into their roles. Heavy metal was played on the set before the infamous sex scene. (I would have needed more than music to get me into that role…like a little self-medication if you get my drift.)
Meet the Neighbors Featurette (4 min): A short interview with actors Julia Schacht and Cecile Mosli. Big plot points are revealed, so I’d highly suggest not watching this feature before the film.
Mental Spaces Featurette: (6 Min): Here the director and set designer are talking about creating the labyrinth in the apartment. The director was greatly influenced by Hitchcock.
We are also offered trailers of the film and other After Dark features.
After the first viewing of Naboer, I was going to tear this movie a new as*hole. If I hadn’t taken the time to watch it again, I wouldn’t have realized how clever it really was. This movie was made to fool the audience. If you think you figured it out early on just because you figured out the obvious ending, then you will be lost by the end, because there is so much more you will have to figure out if you want to truly understand this flick.
I recommend it to everyone to watch the movie more than once to really appreciate it. Although, I do understand that there will be a lot of people who will not like the movie at all. “Different strokes for different folks,” I guess. (Inside joke for those who have seen the movie.) Kudos to Pat Sletaune for sending me on the ultimate mindf*ck experience.