Reviews & Counting
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The Girl Next Door(2007)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Gregory Wilson

Blythe Auffarth/Meg
Daniel Manche/David
Blanche Baker/Ruth
William Atherton'/Adult David
8 10
In the 50’s young Meg (Auffarth ) and her sister move in with Auntie Ruth (Baker) after their parents’ death. As if it wasn’t enough that they recently suffered a major loss, Auntie Ruth winds up being some bitter, angry, booze abusing and psychotic bitch from hell who, along with her young sons and random kids from the neighborhood focus all their energy in putting Meg through the ringer. A ringer that re-defines the definition of “ringer”. Yup, it’s going to hurt!

In this town murder became the neighborhood game.

The Girl Next Door was based upon Jack Ketchum’s notorious book (nope, never read it) of the same name which was itself loosely based on the true life murder of Sylvia Marie Likens. And let me tell ya; it was a hard freaking watch for this jackass. Frankly; it was such the wrong film for me to live through right now, taking into account my recent state of mind. Sadly, I couldn't duck this one, the flick found me and acted as yet another reminder as to why our society sucks.

The Girl Next Door was very efficient at what it did. It established three very endearing characters off the bat, made me like and care for them and then tossed them to the lions. Now its not that the relationships and characters were really explored in a mucho in depth fashion. From my perception our three heroes almost acted as symbols. Meg in particular (brilliantly played by the oh so likeable Blythe Auffarth) was for me the equivalent of purity, good and lust for life. Her prosecutors were the flipside of that; bitter, angry, self loathing and not being able to deal with it hence projecting it onto the most vulnerable being they can find. I have witnessed this pathetic human trait many o times in my life; and I can’t say I was too enthralled to have to witness it again here to do my job.

With that said; The Girl Next Door aced its intent with glee. It set me up real good with its 50’s, “Leave it to Beaver” type of aura, charmed me with its promise of a cutesy coming of age love story, then slipped in a poison card, rolled on, then another poison card, rolled on and then it knocked me the f*ck out when it took off the gloves to go old school on my ass. Now I have read some reviews that stated that the film lacked impact; well I must be hormonally imbalanced now of late (damn Steroids) because it pummeled me like ground beef being grounded. I actually had to watch the film in two separate sittings; I just couldn’t freaking take sitting through the human ugliness anymore. I was appalled, angry, frustrated and I wanted to dive into the screen rip Auntie Ruth’s head off with my bare hands, axe her devil kids and save that poor girl. Yup, the film did its job marvelously; it got me involved and affected me to a ludicrous degree.

Flaws were on hand though. I had some issues with the character of Young David and his constant in-action as to Meg’s plight. I mean the whole spiel could’ve been avoided with one anonymous phone calls to the cops, yet even that was too hard for little wimpy David to do. His “flaws” to serve the plot lessened my sympathy factor in his regards. Grow some balls boy! Then there was the final plot turn, which demanded some suspension of disbelief as to how it went down. Didn’t fully buy it. On that; those boo-boos didn’t change the fact that the last 10 minutes of this emotional ringer had me crying like a man child who lost his mommy to a lesbian mommy and that a grey cloud loomed above my head long after the end credits rolled. I was depressed, shit I’m still depressed. The Girl next Door was a powerful and well made flick with wonderful performances at play… and I never, and I mean NEVER… want to see it again.
The flick implied more than it showed; but “what” it suggested, coupled with the little it showed, tag-teamed to whoop me silly. OUCH!
Blythe Auffarth (Meg) did a fabulous job in making fall in love with her by putting out an enchanting smile, positive attitude and endearing insecurities. The manner in which she tackled the role made what happened to her character later on near unbearable. Daniel Manche (David) didn’t miss a beat as the kid with a crush and a conscience. Loved him! Blanche Baker (Ruth) was so convincing as the venomous cunt I hated to hate that I’m sure she lost a couple of friends due to this role. William Atherton' (Adult David) managed to stir me up and hit my right buttons even within is very limited screen time.
T & A
We get some NON AROUSING nudity from Blythe Auffarth. So you know what; nope there is no nudity.
Gregory Wilson shot his in a restrained fashion that kept it grounded hence powerful. It also slyly played off the contrast of “sunny, all is well on the surface 50’s suburbs” vs. dark and oppressive basement where the horror happens. He also knew when to go all out and when to suggest when it came to the violence. Grade A!
We get a subtle and sad score and a couple of 50’s tune. Worked for me!
The Girl next Door was a very well acted, shot and paced flick that for me acted as a metaphor for what happens when you drop something positive into the “negative by norm” world we live in; sooner or later it gets destroyed. The film did falter when it came cheating logic to keep poor Meg in hell but at the end of the beating; the flick got all of the intended reactions out of me; hence its high rating. Not for the faint of heart and if you’re down on the world these days — avoid this film - it will make you feel worse… like I do right now. Back to Dr. JD I go!
Based on the Indiana, USA Sylvia Marie Likens case. A young girl tortured to death by Gertrude Baniszewski, her kids and other kids from the neighborhood.

The 2007 flick An American Crime starring Catherine Keener and Ellen Page as Likens is also based on the Sylvia Marie Likens case.

The Girl Next Door should hit DVD in December of 2007.