Please Don’t You Be My Neighbor
Last week, I was lucky enough to find a link through a news site I follow on Twitter. The link I read said to show up Friday April 23rd at midnight to The Cinema Slaughter Horror Fest and be "treated to an upcoming, anticipated horror flick." My brain immediately went to convincing my body it was A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. That’s upcoming and anticipated! I jumped on this right quick, thinking I was onto something. I promised Mike C and Phil Fasso a story about this event. I was amped! This was, of course, before I thought to do a little more research, which brought me to realization this was a screening for the movie NEIGHBOR, written and directed by Robert Angelo Masciantonio. I found the trailer online and immediately kicked myself in the face for agreeing to go to this. This movie looked exactly like the type of film I would wholeheartedly go out of my way to avoid.
I have a pretty big bone to pick with horror films that use gore as a gimmick. This is similar to the bone I have to pick with hip hop music that uses auto tune and every recent movie that’s been in 3-D. Damn gimmicks, all of them! There are exceptions for each, of course. If the use of gore in a horror movie is justified by the film’s story, I’m all for it. However, if your movie is relying on the gore to keep it interesting, then I’m put off and annoyed. This mindset might very well have tainted my usually unbiased nature upon going into this movie.
But go I did. Upon getting home from work, I attempted a nap to be rested for this midnight screening. Yes, I am now an old man. This movie had me up past my bedtime. Don’t look at me like that! Damn kids…
On my drive over the hill into Hollywood, I noticed a brand new Chipotle Mexican Grill in my neighborhood. I almost decided to go spend my money there. Have you had their burritos? Seriously. I’m sure this would have been a neighbor I’d have been happier spending my money on. But, a commitment is a commitment.
Anyway, the website for The Cinema Slaughter Horror Fest advised to get to the theater early because "it will sell out". I got there an hour early. AN HOUR! So there I was, standing outside of the Laemmle Sunset 5 Theaters at 11:00 pm with ticket in hand. It was unnaturally chilly for Los Angeles that evening, so I not so unnaturally went to enter the building. To my dismay, I was stopped by the girl with the vampire eyes and black bob haircut and her gothy coworker in the priest collar. They both told me they weren’t letting anyone in the lobby until 11:50. How excited I was to find out I had fifty minutes to kill, in my least favorite part of Hollywood: The Sunset Strip. The Sunset Strip on a Friday night is where all the meathead chucklenuts and whore-ish girls with daddy issues go. That’s my take. What, me jaded? I had some serious egg on my face for taking the website literally.
I spent the next fifty endless minutes running my iPhone battery dead by playing Bejeweled Blitz. When I almost fell asleep on the weird wicker seating they had outside, I even found the courage to brave the stretch Hummer limos and krunked up club goers and walk across the strip to the gas station to get some coffee. Mmmm, coffee from a gas station. It’s like gourmet coffee, if the word gourmet meant crappy.
Getting back to the theatre, I finally received word I could enter the theater lobby. I was getting pretty tired of overhearing the stereotypical conversations about what script someone was writing and what movie someone just acted in. Just because it’s Hollywood, doesn’t mean you all need to fit the damn stereotype! So, in the theater lobby I went. There were two tables set up for this "Horror Fest". One was for Famous Monsters Of Filmland Magazine (http://www.famousmonstersoffilmland.com/). These guys were cool and had free promotional posters and calendar magnets to give away. CALENDAR MAGNETS, PEOPLE! The other table was for Girls And Corpses Magazine (http://www.girlsandcorpses.com/). These guys freaked me out. Hot girls and dead people. I’ll take the first and leave the second, thank you very much.
For some reason, it took a bit longer to let us in the theater, and the clock had reached the bitching hour (meaning midnight; I was annoyed). There was a crowd of Hollywood style douchebags who seemed to get off on their mere existence. I proceeded to blame them for everything wrong with the evening and started fantasizing about my sweet, sweet Chipotle Mexican Grill. And just when I was about to punch random necks of random people, they let us in the theater.
No sooner than I sat down, a neighbor moved into my row a few seats down who looked just like Lo Pan from BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. Except this guy was wearing thick bottle neck glasses and smelled sulfurous. A few minutes later, a group of people sat down in front of me, including one girl who would not stop texting throughout the entire film, and a tweeked out girl who was dressed in what looked like a cheap female vampire Halloween costume one might get in the clearance section at Target. Welcome to Hollywood.
It was at this point that Adam Gierasch introduced the movie. A brief video from the director showed before the movie started. In it, Mr. Masciantonio claimed this movie was not to be taken too seriously and one is to laugh at the gore. Oy vey, isn’t it a bit redundant to state a movie is for entertainment to the audience that came to said movie to be entertained? I get it. Apparently, the film’s own editor vomited from viewing some of the footage of the movie. I think if a movie needs the director to tell the audience how they should react to his piece, then something is wrong. Regardless, I did my best to be entertained and to laugh. Sadly, I was far from either.
Long story short, this movie is about an attractive crazy girl played by America Olivo who goes from random person to random person, torturing and killing. We are introduced to the character of Dan, played by Christian Campbell. The character development of him and his band mate friends was a nice change of pace from other torture porn style films I’ve seen. However, the story didn’t seem to flow right. One thing leads to another, and the crazy girl whose actions seem similar to those of The BTK Killer, finds Dan and tortures him and his friends. The most interesting aspect of this movie were the gory scenes, and I hated every one of them. Whether it’s the cutting off of the knee cap or the penis rape scene, none of this seemed justified, which is a sad statement, because I realized this gore was the glue that held this movie together. Without it, this would have been one really boring, unstructured film. With this glue, this was one really gory and ridiculously annoying film. The one character they forgot to develop was the crazy girl. I found nothing about her frightening. Maybe it was the acting. Maybe it was the writing. I can list other maybes but once we reached the penis rape scene and out of the corner of my eye caught Lo Pan entertaining his own penis, I
Taken straight from the Synopsis section of the movie’s website: "NEIGHBOR is one of those films that will have even the most jaded audiences squirming and screaming by the 30-minute mark. If you couldn’t handle the last act of Miike’s AUDITION, this isn’t the film for you. Nearly the entire second half is an astonishing, Grand Guignol series of extreme sequences that seriously push the envelope—character-driven, mind you, and nothing like the so-called ‘torture porn’ wave, this is smart, freaky stuff."
Nothing like the so-called "torture porn" wave? Are you kidding me? This is EXACTLY like that. I will give the writer/director credit for some of the witty dialogue and attempt to add twists to the story. But beyond that, I call shenanigans.
But what about the "treat" that news site referred to? Well, the audience was to stay through the duration of NEIGHBOR to view a clip from an upcoming and anticipated new horror film. At 1:45 am, as the movie ended (with people clapping, to my surprise) Mr Gierasch got back on the microphone and announced he would be showing a clip to his new NIGHT OF THE DEMONS remake. Of course, he announced this to two thirds of the audience who were now leaving because it was ONE FORTY FIVE IN THE DAMN MORNING! So, sorry dear readers, I did not stay to see the clip of this new anticipated horror film which he wrote. In fact, it looked like only ten people stayed. Just how hardcore some people can be.
All in all, the movie to me was a waste of time. I feel that the gore was definitely a gimmick to get people in the seats. If it wasn’t, they would not have pointed out in the synopsis on the film’s website (http://fearyourneighbor.com/synopsis.html) how the film’s editor himself puked from viewing the material in the film. For anyone who appreciates story, plot, and character this movie is not for you. For everyone else, have at it. I’m just one grumpy, burrito loving man who was gullible enough to follow a Twitter tip.
And if anyone who works at Chipotle is reading this, I’m hungry. Send me a chicken burrito, stat!
— Aaron Pruner