Good Neighbors
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Most of us have had our share of quirky neighbors: the noisy couple next door (the ones who always seem to start their home improvement projects just as you’re trying to get to sleep at night), the disapproving chain smoker downstairs, the gossipy old lady down the street. But I suspect that few of us have ever lived with such a disturbed and dysfunctional bunch of misfits as the characters in the Canadian thriller Good Neighbors.

When Victor (Jay Baruchel) returns to Montreal after working in China, he’s immediately drawn to the other English-speaking residents of his new apartment building. Louise (Emily Hampshire) is a surly cat person who doesn’t really connect with other people. Spencer (Scott Speedman) is a lonely, wheelchair-bound man who’s still mourning the loss of his wife. And both are fascinated by the ongoing reports of a serial killer who’s stalking their neighborhood.

After Louise’s coworker is killed on her way home from work, Victor begins escorting her home each night. The two become friends—and Victor soon finds himself falling for his rather cold and distant neighbor. But nothing in this apartment building is quite as it seems—and as the characters’ true identities and capabilities are revealed, the story takes an even darker and more disturbing turn.

Really, though, Good Neighbors is already quite dark and eerie right from the start. Director Jacob Tierney gives the film a haunting and even paranoid tone, using both the atmosphere of the old apartment building and plenty of musical cues to set the stage for the creepiness to come. From the beginning of the film, you’ll suspect that things in the building aren’t quite right, but you won’t know whether it has something to do with anti-social Louise, geeky and mysterious newcomer Victor, or Spencer, whose unwillingness to leave his apartment—combined with his disturbing, cat-like grin—will give you chills.

As the story plays out, it becomes darker and more sinister—not to mention shockingly graphic. Still, it all builds surprisingly slowly, gradually coming to a boil. By the end, as the story starts racing to its conclusion, it becomes tense and thrilling—but, admittedly, it takes a whole lot of time to get there.

Good Neighbors is definitely an eerie thriller. It’s dark and creepy, and it’s filled with fascinatingly disturbed characters. If you can stomach the occasional blood and guts—and if you’re patient enough to wait it out as the story plods through its slow boil—it’s an intriguingly disconcerting drama. And, if nothing else, it’ll give you a whole new appreciation for the batty old gossip down the street.

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