The Girl Next Door

The Girl Next Door

1.5 out of 51.5 out of 51.5 out of 51.5 out of 5 1.5

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Like some demented cross between a Norman Rockwell painting and an Eli Roth film, The Girl Next Door flaunts the dark side of suburbia while selling itself as an examination of our social mores. The film was adapted from Jack Ketchum’s novel of the same name, which in turn found its inspiration in the 1965 death of 16-year-old Sylvia Likens, who—for three months—was endlessly tortured by her guardian Gertrude Baniszewski in ways too sick and horrifying to recount here (at Baniszewski’s trial, the prosecution described her actions as “the most terrible crime ever committed in the state of Indiana”). Here, Sylvia and Gertrude are Meg Loughlin (Blythe Auffarth) and Ruth Chandler (Blanche Baker), respectively, the young girl forced to stay with “Auntie Ruth” after her parents died in an automobile accident. Baker embodies Ruth as the biggest bitch to ever walk the face of the earth—a cigarette perpetually hangs out of her rotten, haggard face, while the young Meg becomes both a physical and metaphorical punching bag for her seemingly depthless self-loathing. Ruth recruits her equally sick sons and several neighborhood children—among them David (Daniel Manche), seemingly the only one among them to have a conscience—to beat, berate, burn, and rape the imprisoned girl, who spends a good half of the film tied from Ruth’s basement ceiling in a sickening Christ pose. Director Gregory Wilson seemingly doesn’t trust the story to be engrossing enough on its own, instead littering the proceedings with numerous thriller-esque touches (who’s that exhaling tobacco fumes just out of frame?) that only serve to render the traumatic happenings totally shrill. Watching the film is illuminating as to the horror seemingly average people are capable of—more so than any of the poseur bullshit from Hostel: Part II, for sure—but its representations are so far removed from reality as to feel like anything more than an exploitation of tragedy. Ultimately, the film is deeply disturbing in all the wrong ways.

Buy
DVD
Runtime
91 min
Rating
R
Year
2007
Director
Gregory Wilson
Screenwriter
Daniel Farrands, Philip Nutman
Cast
Blythe Auffarth, Daniel Manche, Blanche Baker, Graham Patrick Martin, Benjamin Ross Kaplan, Austin Williams, William Atherton, Kevin Chamberlin