GOOD NEIGHBORS (2011) Review


Directed by Jacob Tierney
Written by Jacob Tierney
Starring Scott Speedman, Jay Baruchel, Emily Hampshire, Anne-Marie Cadieux, & Micheline Lanctôt

This thriller from the land up North may not be the cup of tea for you gore hounds out there, but for fiends of all things Hitchcockian, GOOD NEIGHBORS is a can’t miss. This film totally took me by surprise by the depths it goes and the twists it unleashes. Writer/director Jacob Tierney (who previously unleashed the unconventional comedy TROTSKY with Baruchel and the homosexual reinterpretation of Oliver Twist in TWIST) does a fantastic job of reeling in the viewer with a trio of interesting characters, then throwing all expectations for a loop as to how far these three will go. In many ways, this is the polar opposite of all of those feel-good twenty-something neighbors in the same apartment films like SINGLES and WITH HONORS. In those films, the actors meet, get to know one another, and then get into each others lives which in the end helps them with whatever issue each suffers from. Here, three folks meet; they get into each others lives, and then try for the rest of the film to get out of them, though their lives are destined to intersect. What this says about modern society and how hard it is to trust one’s neighbor is beside the point. What matters is that Tierney has pulled off a fantastic game of whodunit with GOOD NEIGHBORS, a serial killer thriller worth seeking out.

All three of the main actors (Scott Speedman,Jay Baruchel, & Emily Hampshire) deliver fantastic performances and up until a point, it could be any of the three who are doing the rape/killings that are terrorizing a specific neighborhood in Montreal. Speedman’s Spencer is a surprisingly menacing performance which reflects a suppressed anger that comes from being stuck in a wheelchair and out of control in a world he seems to long to master. Baruchel’s Victor seems harmless, but events occur mid-film indicating that he is somewhat delusional and obsessive. Is he the killer? Or is it Hampshire’s Louise who is fascinated with the crimes and definitely playing with the emotions of both of her neighbors for her own amusement. Tierney’s script pulls you in at first as these three exchange pleasantries, then pulls back the curtains and shows how twisted friendships can often become. The explosive climax is filled with one back stab after another until you don’t know who is telling the truth.

Tierney patiently unfolds the mystery and though I guessed it somewhat early on, he keeps the twists going that everything doesn’t hinge on the identity of the real killer. Instead he focuses on strong character and taking full advantage of the cold winter landscape that is Montreal. Through numerous musical interludes, Tierney explores every inch of this expansive apartment complex through the eyes of Louise’s two cats, which factor greatly into the overall plot. GOOD NEIGHBORS also goes for twisted comedy as well at times in which some of the most macabre moments are looked at through an absurd lens. One might overlook this film in this summer of overblown blockbusters, but when you’re finished with all the fluff, GOOD NEIGHBORS is a truly unique twisted little mystery that is sure to be remembered.

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