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The Girl Next Door
3 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Gregory Wilson

Written By:
Daniel Farrands, Jack Ketchum, Philip Nutman

Blanche Baker, Austin Williams, William Atherton, Kevin Chamberlin, Grant Show, Catherine Mary Stewart, Peter Stickles, Michael Zegen, Daniel Manche, Graham Patrick Martin, Blythe Auffarth, Graham Patrick Martin, Benjamin Ross Kaplan, Dean Faulkenberry, Gabrielle Howarth, Spenser Leigh ., Madeline Taylor, Jennifer Alexander

The Girl Next Door (2007)
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Movie Review by Zara
January 20th, 2008

I must start by IMPLORING you to read the book that this movie was adapted from. Jack Ketchum isn't for everyone. He writes about things that will make most weak-hearted souls call foul. But his style is quite simply impeccable. You understand with the greatest depth what he is describing. You breathe his characters.

I'm not just imploring (nay, demanding) that you read this book as a preface to watching the movie because the book is that good. (Which, for the record, I consider this book to be my favorite of all time, if mostly for the man's talent and not for the deplorable true circumstances on which it was based.) I tell you this because reading the book enhances the movie and I find that to be a very important aspect here.

See, the film has this quaint, cable-network look to it. (And I'm talking LifeTime, not HBO.) The colors are vivid and sharp but you know that this isn't a major studio picture. No, no major studio would have been brave enough to attempt to pull this off. The film isn't cheaply made, but it's not going to look or feel like what you're used to if you're a theater goer and not an avid DVD renter who might have stumbled through their share of off-name production studios.

And understanding how well this movie is made in its adaptation might be hindered by that bias, if you have it. And I would really hate for you to dismiss the power of the film just because you didn't think it looked good enough.

Reading the book, I had literal physical responses to it. I shuddered in portions. I needed to put the book down and walk away from it for awhile in others. It is NOT, by any means, just another horror writer's novels. It is a book which describes at point blank range what evil people do. Real people, the ones that live across from you and look so normal that when you read about their atrocities in the paper, you're stunned. Because evil isn't a monster under your bed. It's not a demon. It's the person who is SUPPOSED to be better than that, the person who is SUPPOSED to protect and cherish and hold dear and instead twists and warps the safety and sanity of children. Of anyone, but especially of children. People who would do so and not think another thought about it. Not just because they're crazy but because they're legitimately just that evil.

The movie can only take the story so far and I must say I was impressed at how much the underage children appeared to have been exposed to. (With camera tricks and whatnot, there are ways of keeping them from seeing things, I suppose.) It's troublesome to me, where I cross my fingers that they didn't have to endure much from even being exposed to the fiction of their roles, but it was going to have to be done in order to tell the story.

And much like when I read the book and wept for the fictional Meg, mainly because I knew there were so many real Megs out there in the world, I cried here. I flinched, I turned away, I put my head down. The movie is very good at outlining the evil. There is a softer touch than Ketchum, but it's only as much as one can expect.

The acting, especially from the young actors playing David and Meg, is exceptional. Blanche Baker is stone-faced in her delivery as the evil Ruth, hinting at the insanity with a chipper tone after committing such heinous acts.

I will take exception with the film in its ending. They have twisted the order of happenings to suit their needs, and while it is not a huge change, it was something I noticed. Their ending still does the job, but the book's ending had a punch to it that you understand more. I won't spoil either of those for you.

But again... please, please, please don't watch the film until you've read the book. And while you're at it, make sure you check out all of Ketchum's other books as well.

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Zombie Boy
Jan 20, 2008 10:13 AM
I have not bumped this up in my queue, nor outright purchased it yet, much as I want to, because I am scared to. I'll freely admit that.

Oh, and I hear tell that RED had/is having some screenings in San Fran. *squee!*
Jan 20, 2008 2:13 PM
Only a long, long car ride away. :)

What I would really like to watch now is THE LOST, since while I love all Ketchum, I consider that one the most "cinematically inclined" movie to make. The second I'd love to see get made with a huge big, giant budget and top stars is SHE WAKES. That would totally rock. Way better than Angie rising from the water in BEOWULF, can you just see it?

And yes, this is extremely rough and I know you'll be affected by it. But being that both of us have read the book, I know that you'll appreciate what the filmmakers did as much as I did.
Zombie Boy
Jan 20, 2008 2:34 PM
I didn't like She Wakes. I think that the I KNOW WHO KILLED ME debacle is not going to help THE LOST get distributed :(
Jan 20, 2008 3:05 PM
You really didn't like SW? I mean, I'm not a huge fan of RED, but I've got the film in my saved queue. You can't tell me that if they made SW into a movie that you wouldn't go and watch it.
Jan 21, 2008 4:05 AM
I looked through your que the other week and saw this film was in it and I thought it was The Girl Next Door with Emile Hirsch in it. I was surprised that you still had not seen it and now I understand why...cause this is a different one.

Jan 21, 2008 7:52 PM
Sounds cool. Hopefully no one will confuse this film with comedy "The Girl Next Door" with EMile Hirsch and Elisha Cuthbert. That movie sucked.

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