The Girl Next Door (2007)

The Girl Next Door (2007)Adapted from a book by Jack Ketchum, The Girl Next Door is one the harshest films that I have ever seen.

Although the storyline undoubtedly features a Coming-of-Age narrative, the events that unfold on screen are so horrifically disturbing, that alongside sympathizing with the lead male protagonist (Daniel Manche) through whose eyes the story is being told, one is almost guaranteed to constantly feel a sense of anger, anguish and quite possibly disgust.

This makes the film tough to watch and definitely unsuitable for very young audiences.

David Moran (Daniel Manche) trough whose eyes the story is told
David Moran (Daniel Manche) through whose eyes the story is told

It actually disturbs me that I was originally thinking of focusing on Daniel Manche‘s unique voice in my review, as the first scenes had me convinced that the film I was about to see would feature a stereotypical narrative about first-love, filled with silly awkward moments. I could have not been more wrong – and though the story turned out to be disturbing (Stephen King called the film “…This is the Dark Side of the Moon version of Stand by Me”), no one is able to dispute its originality or its ability to engage the viewer. The only film that comes close is Bill Paxton‘s 2001 film Frailty as, despite the differences in the narrative, both are truly impactful and share a similar director’s approach and overall cinematographic style.

Not your typical family
Not your typical family

Some viewers may be shocked by the lack of an adequate reaction to what they see from many of the film’s protagonists. This is particularly true of Daniel Manche’s character, but when one considers his young age and apparent innocence (which was robbed from him as result of the things he witnessed) his behavior starts making sense. The experiences he has as a boy greatly influence the person he becomes as a man as is evidenced from the film’s beginning to its finale.

While not a typical first-love Coming-of-Age film, The Girl Next Door is a film about love – albeit a tragic one. People say true love is always tragic – which I can vouch for based on my real life experiences (as unorthodox as they might be). The Girl Next Door‘s narrative is a beautiful one – yet it is not easy at all to focus on higher ideals considering the excessive violence and cruelty on screen. The filmmakers have not spared viewers and many gruesome details are there to observe. Knowing that the film is based on a true story (Sylvia Likens) and that it’s not implausible that similar events are happening behind closed doors in an otherwise idyllically looking neighborhood, makes the story even more stomach turning.

As disturbing as it is, I don’t hesitate to recommend the film. Just bear in mind its R rating.

The Girl Next Door (2007)

91 min|Crime, Drama, Horror|17 Oct 2008
6.7Rating: 6.7 / 10 from 20,403 usersMetascore: 29
Based on the Jack Ketchum novel of the same name, The Girl Next Door follows the unspeakable torture and abuses committed on a teenage girl in the care of her aunt…and the boys who witness and fail to report the crime.
5
Our rating
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