The Good Neighbor Review

The Good Neighbour (2016) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

Director: Kasra Farahani
Writers: Mark Bianculli,  Jeff Richard
Stars: James Caan,  Logan Miller,  Keir Gilchrist

This Movie reminded me of the 2007 film Disturbia starring Shia LaBeouf and Robert Zemekis’ What Lies Beneath (2000), Both are very fine movies that blend the suspense genre elements and have good directing, acting and editing and The Good Neighbour is a good example of this standard at a lower budget.

Sean (Keir Gilchrist) who has the technical expertise and the equipment at his disposal thanks to his father’s wealth. Ethan (Logan Miller) is Sean’s friend who has the fortitude and ingenuity and interest in social behaviour.

Both Sean and Ethan undertake a social psychological experiment, and use the neighbour across the street Harold Grainey (James Caan) as their unknowing subject. For their experiment, they equip the Harold’s home with numerous hidden cameras and electrical devices in order to manipulate the home appliances, fixtures, gadgets and such. They are then able to remotely control and view everything that occurs.

After weeks of the manipulating experiments, Sean and Ethan soon realise watching Harold on the hidden cameras that he has unusual habits and routines that sets their minds racing. Harold has a basement securely locked from the outside, and spends hours down there making the two boys starting to think there is more to Harold than meets the eye. Also Harold’s behaviour and no fear towards the extreme tactics by the boys to convince him his house is haunted alarms them, and one particular experiment sends Harold into an unpredictably violent and destructive rage with a pick axe.

Sean begins to regret conducting the experiment and wants to abandon the project, whilst Ethan is even more determined that Harold Grainey is hiding a dark secret in his basement.

I have to say at this point that the antics of Sean and Ethan are very sinister, this is mostly shown in the motives of Ethan. He keeps trying to manipulate Harold and we soon begin to learn that this has more to do with revenge more than his study into human behaviour. It’s also revealed that there is a history between Mr. Grainey and Ethan’s family and Ethan’s bias toward the old man only fuels his speculation that Harold is up to something awful.

The movie flits back and forth throughout with scene segments in a courtroom (This signifies that the “experiment” didn’t go to plan) where a prosecutor speaks to and interrogates a variety of witnesses to the stand.

The characters I felt both Sean and Ethan to be unlikeable, especially Ethan who I found to be to be truly despicable. Sean on the other hand I didn’t like because although he had a conscience, he was practically unable to think for himself and was very easily manipulated by Ethan, which is surprising as Sean is supposed to be the brains behind the operation and also has his eyes on MIT.

The character of Ethan’s mother Caroline (Laura Innes) is so oblivious at time on what he son and his friend are up for hours upon hours at a time that is unbelievable.

James Caan who is a magnificent actor plays Mr. Grainey as a mean and lonely old man that by the end of the movie you are supposed to sympathise with but I felt the storytelling portrayed him the other way for most of the time for the audience to feel sorry for him at the films climax (which is to be fair a very gripping scene)

Kasra Farahani is more known in the business for his work mostly as a concept artist in many bigger budgeted movies. Farahani’s work as a Director shows this is his first full feature with two shorts in the can and a pending project called “Tilt” scheduled for this year. I would have to say that the storyline is compelling thanks to writers Mark Bianculli and Jeff Richard but character development is lacking as previously mentioned and in particular with the two main characters.

Overall The Good Neighbour serves to remind to us you should never judge a book by it’s cover and that we all live in our own perceptions of the facts. I would recommend you give the movie a viewing as the storyline will engross and engaged you.

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