Add a plot.
In the new Mexican indie psychological thriller/art-house film, The Neighbor — there’s a line of dialogue from a cab driver/hit man about a drug cocktail he took, post-surgery for an apparent face-lift. And now he’s unable to focus on the task at hand.
He mentions a laundry list of drugs: Vidocin, Methamphetamines, MDMA, LSD, Crystal Meth, Cocaine, Heroin, Marijuana and Oxycotin.
All I can say, is that after screening this train wreck of a film, I have to venture a guess that the filmmakers – while concocting and then making the film – may have been on a cocktail of similar ingredients.
To further this, the programmers of this year’s LA Film Fest (where over the past three years I’ve seen plenty of quality films), where The Neighbor premiered – must also have been on some sort of mind-numbing (and clearly mind-altering) drugs when they chose this absolutely dreadful film as an Official Selection. And what further boggles the mind is that the selection process (as with most festivals I assume) is by committee. How did this film sneak by? There had to have been something better to fill in the gap.
And with that, I don’t even hesitate to proclaim this: The Neighbor is the worst film I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
And during my years of watching movies (long before I was reviewing them as a profession), I saw things like Slaughter High, a movie called Blood Cult and countless other painful, straight to video film-going excursions. And since I have been reviewing, there have been dozens of absolutely dreadful movies which have received the dreaded “kiss of death” – a half-star review. Heck, I think I’ve even thrown out the “worst film I’ve ever seen” comment before. But this time – folks, I really and truly mean it.
As I’ve said over the years, the rating system here at Horror Freak News doesn’t allow for any score lower than half-star – so I’ll just have to point out right here, right now – that if I could offer up such a number – this score would be negative.
I’m not a fan of art-house films. I generally like films with some story and some structure. But I can appreciate a good art-house flick if it’s actually something interesting, captivating or beautiful. Yes, yes – I know not all art is beautiful – but it does need to be engaging.
Let me give you a brief rundown on the “story” for The Neighbor. I practically gagged on that word when referencing this film.
Oh Lord – I just can’t. As I’m looking at the film’s IMDb page – where I generally pull synopsis info to be placed in the information sections of the review – I see that the filmmakers have yet to post a summary or synopsis. It currently states, “Add a plot”. And it’s not as if the film’s IMDb page is stark. There are photos, filming locations and several other bits of trivia listed – but not an actual summary of the film itself. What is that supposed to say to me?
I’ll take it as a sign that even the filmmakers don’t know what the hell their film is about. But here, I’ll give it a go.
Young couple Alejandro and Alejandra (Sergio Valdez and Isabelle Orizaga; respectively) live in a duplex, with a new neighbor named Raul (Paco Mufote) currently inhabiting the upstairs unit. He lives a sparse life, with only his adorable little dog. And he becomes obsessed with Alejandra – stealing and sniffing her panties, listening in on their conversations and eventually kidnapping her. And that’s about it as far as story goes. Really, that’s no joke.
Now I know a few festival programmers for other festivals, and I get that films may not be perfect in every way, but if something specific (amazing performance, gorgeous visual effects, moving score) fits the bill and really wows the judges and the programmers – they might let it slip by. If something it worthwhile, it’s worthy of placement.
Which is why it’s just so unclear why The Neighbor received any recognition at all. The original time that Raul records the conversations of his downstairs neighbor and then plays it back – while the actors are performing the scene as he “listens” is sort of inventive. But then it happens every five minutes and quickly wears thin. And Raul will then inexplicably rewind or fast forward to hear something again – and the scene with the actors follows suit. My guess is that this quickly tiresome film trick is what got the attention of the festival programmers. But jeepers, it’s just not enough!
Other than that tiny positive call-out, everything else is horribly amateurish and nonsensical. I didn’t understand the majority of technical choices – including the weirdo fact that the actors were all dubbed in Mexican-Spanish. Nothing about their dialogue lined up. Huh?
At a quick 76 minutes, The Neighbor will feel much longer. Nothing happens, and so each minute drags painfully by. And I’ve said this before about overly-long features which would have been better off living their life as a short film. And in many of those cases, it would mean that all of the strengths of a particular film which can’t quite fill a feature length – would be concentrated into a solid (and perhaps brilliant) 20-minute short.
I can’t even say that for The Neighbor. No length of any kind can make up for complete nothingness. There’s nothing here. And I don’t feel as though there was some massive amount of dripping symbolism of some sort of societal nightmare which we all know, understand and do nothing about.
This film can’t claim to be some sort of art-house, esoteric nightmare film. No. This dude is just a weirdo pervert and that’s it. There’s no lofty, high-brow secret to what we’re seeing.
It’s pure exploitation and in this case – it takes itself too seriously, thus losing any of the charms of that particular genre.
I will mention that the dog in the film warmed my heart – even when he eats the head of a man’s penis. So that cute little dick-eating dog could be the one positive I find in this film of utterly no value otherwise.
I was actually fuming when the film ended. It’s a pointless piece of garbage and I hope it never sees the light of day at any other festivals or in any potential wider releases.
The Neighbor easily garners an “avoid at all costs” rating. Ugh. Just ugh.