Apr 6, 2010

Posted in 2000s, Guest Writer, Reviewers

The Girl Next Door (2007)

The Girl Next Door (2007)

“Do you think you know about pain?”

As horror film fans we are all too familiar with various plot lines (or lack of) in the genre.  A lone female is left to her own devices, usually triumphant against the evil masculine predator.

Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door (2007) is not that traditional type of horror film.  Traditional horror with the antagonist as a mad scientist, monster or insane killer provides the viewer with a cushion from the reality of the viciousness onscreen.  The film is an adaption of Jack Ketchum’s 1989 novel of the same name.

Zombies?  Impossible
Vampires? Fun, but not real.
Psychos?  Scary, real scary, but remote.  Don’t make any bad decisions; walk alone in an alley, get into a stranger’s car.  You’ll be fine.

Now, what if you’re placed in the hands of a monster?  A monster that looks like you inflicting the worst pain imaginable?

The Girl Next Door tells the harrowing story of a 14-year-old Meg  (Blythe Auffarth) and her disabled 9-year-old sister, Susan, (Madeline Taylor).  In the Summer of 1954, after their parents’ fatal car accident, the girls are placed in the care of their sadistic Aunt Ruth (Blanche Baker) and her three pubescent sons.  Meg is young, pretty and artistic with a life full of hope and promise.  She is everything Ruth isn’t and jealousy sequesters Meg and Susan into a house of horrors.

Child abuse is the underlying theme of the film.  After witnessing Susan’s brutal spanking by Ruth for a minor infraction, Meg attempts to plan their escape.  Meg notifies the local beat cop; her story is met with disbelief.  Remember the narrative takes place in the 1950’s, where the majority turned a blind eye to domestic abuse and corporal punishment were lessons in discipline.

When Ruth finds out the girls’ agenda, Meg is left to endure the most stomach churning offenses I believe ever seen on film.  She’s subjected to vicious mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuses including female castration.

Ruth’s evil also poisons the minds of her sons and other disenfranchised neighborhood teens who stand by watching and participating in Meg’s humiliation.

One neighborhood boy, David (Daniel Manche), who has a crush on Meg, is conflicted in his loyalty to his suddenly psychotic school aged friends, his being taught to respect and listen to what adults tell him to do, and his own shameful titillation at seeing a nude, retrained teenaged female.  The character of David embodies society’s indifference to uncomfortable social realities.

The film focuses on David’s internal conflict.  This keeps the viewer marginally separated from Meg’s abuse.  What could Meg be thinking while she’s tortured in a cold damp cellar for weeks with no one expected to rescue her?  David takes too long to stop the Game.

The novel and film are based on the thru story of teenager Sylvia Likens, who in 1964 was tortured and killed by a woman who was paid to take care of her for three months.

The viewer might find it difficult to watch the film without remembering a time where they might have chosen to turn away from an injustice, thought it better to not snitch.  Current events remind us of the evils inflicted on children.

If you’re a rational, empathic human being, The Girl Next Door will make you want to get involved, jump right through the screen and become Meg’s and Susan’s savior.

– By Sloan

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.7/5 (6 votes cast)
The Girl Next Door (2007), 4.7 out of 5 based on 6 ratings

Comments are closed.