Good Neighbours

Good Neighbours

Film review by: Witney Seibold

“Good Neighbours,” a Canadian thriller from now-grown child actor Jacob Tierney (star of “Josh and S.A.M.”), involves the mysterious hidden identity of a local serial killer, and the potential suspects are our three main characters, played by Jay Baruchel, Scott Speedman, and Emily Hampshire. In order to keep the mystery ambiguous, however, the filmmakers decided to make each of our leads a bugnuts weirdo with extreme social problems, and pathological habits that makes each of them dour or repellant in some way. Consider, then, that we’ll be spending 99 minutes of film with a trio of toxic weirdos with ambiguous motivations and off-putting personalities. This is going to be a long slog.


Baruchel (a funny actor whom I happen to like) plays recent transplant Victor, who has just moved into his new Quebecois building, and is neurotic and strange and awakward, but not in an entirely charming way. In the building, he meets the dead-eyed Louise (Hampshire), who talks to her cat obsessively, and seems to be in mid-sneer in every shot. Victor takes a shine to Louise for reasons that not entirely clear; he seems to be taking advantage of their close proximity to make his move. Victor also meets the wheelchair-bound Spencer (Speedman), who is a total dick to everyone for no good reason, but is good-looking enough that he can get away with it. I think we all know someone like that; the good-looking douchebag who stays in your life for longer than you ever anticipated. Early in the film, we see Spencer feeding small fish to his bigger fish, and cackling in glee.

There is indeed a serial rapist/murderer on the loose, as we learn from TV broadcasts, and portentous conversations like “I hope that killer’s not out tonight!” Since the film banks entirely on keeping the identity of the killer a secret, and it’s all too clear that the killer is one of the three leads, the filmmakers keep the ambiguity alive by showing all three of our creepy lead actors behaving increasingly creepy for the bulk of the film. The effect, however, is not one of mounting tension (I could see Roman Polanski doing wonders with a story like this), but a feeling of prolonged awkwardness. Like we’re trapped in a conversation with someone who is clearly mentally ill, and we’re only looking for a reason to excuse ourselves. The three leads have dinner parties where Speedman berates his guests, Louise gives everyone the cold shoulder, and Baruchel is too aw-shucks polite to excuse himself. It’s like a series of misplaced scenes from various Neil LaBute films.

There are some side incidents, one of which involves a skinny, chain-smoking French Canadian neighbor (and I understand there are a lot of those in Quebec) who hates Louise’s cats with a fiery passion. Victor builds a ramp for Spencer. At a party, Victor announces quietly to a friend that he and Louise are engaged (they aren’t), and he begins to stalk her. Which of these three is the killer? Who knows?


By the time we find out, and have witnessed some weird criminal machinations of some of the characters (there is a scene of sperm extraction… yeep), the film has devolved into a sudden, last-minute cat-and-mouse dynamic that was not presaged, and doesn’t pay off very well. It was a action-filled climax that was tonally inappropriate to the rest of the ambiguous film.

“Good Neighbours” is turgid, weird, and unclear. Its socially awkward and toxic people are not fun to watch, and thinking which of these people might be a serial killer is like analyzing the personality of Patrick Bateman from “American Psycho.” They’re all mad, and it’s just a matter of time.


Published in: on August 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm  Comments (2)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favourite reason appeared to be at the internet the easiest factor to have in mind of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed at the same time as folks consider worries that they just don’t understand about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as neatly as outlined out the whole thing without having side effect , people can take a signal. Will likely be again to get more. Thank you

  2. I almost liked it. I wasn’t surprised to learn that it is based on the book, not the original script. The characters seemed a bit too shallow transferred onto the screen. Louise’s revenge plot lacks conviction and motive – you can’t execute [sorry] such a scene so vague as if writing a page. The ending is too quick and black-and-white; I guess Spencer got what he deserved and all that, but hadn’t he fell off the stairs, there is little they could prove that he was the (serial) killer or wanted to kill Victor.

    Thanks for the half-recommendation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: