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The Girl Next Door

A movie directed by Gregory Wilson

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This is a great film but this movie just piss me off.

  • Feb 11, 2008
Talk about being numb to your seat. Even though I've been warned I was still angered by it. I never cuss and fuss so much towards a film in my life. As a parent I was totally appalled of all the actions that took place towards the sisters. Just because your (Ruth) life ended up bad doesn't mean you can take it upon a child. She's lucky I didn't bump into her in the streets but fortunately enough she got what she deserves. In the beginning of this film, it revolves around David (played as an adult by William Atherton, the seminal 1980s), who after seeing a man hit by a car, recalls his youth and meeting Meg Loughlin (Blythe Auffarth), a 13 year old daughter of a gypsy left with her mother under the care of Ruth (Blanche Baker) and her sons. The young David (played by Daniel Manche) grows fond of his neighbors and Ruth, as she lets the boys drink beer, smoke cigarettes, and give them whatever they want. However, Ruth grows spiteful of Meg and her younger sister Susan (Madeline Taylor), crippled from polio. She starts with verbal abuse, and it soon turns into something more violent, as Ruth and her sons tie up Meg in the basement, and allow the neighborhood kids to torture her with cigarette burns, rape, and branding hot needles into her skin. David seems helpless, but slowly tries to find the courage to help her.

The film starts out like any coming of age film, where David meets his new neighbors and the first act shows David's induction into Ruth's house. The second act begins the torture, and the third act is David's belated reaction to do something about it. It is successful on the filmmakers to have me react so strongly every time Ruth and her sons appeared on screen, because I know that's what they are going for. However, I felt that the process they used felt more exploitative than most. It shows in a scene before Meg's torture, where Ruth punishes Susan by dropping her pants and spanking her with a toilet bowl cleaner. We only see a view from below the bed, where Susan lies, but to see her braces fall to the ground as each slap is heard just felt sickening. The slow torture of Meg was very unpleasant to watch, and just went to a level so far it became exploitative. I know this really happened, but it didn't need to go to that level to show the point they needed to make. The director did state that the kids weren't there for explicit scenes but they were all there for Meg's first scene at the basement.

Blythe Auffarth undeniably gave a brave performance as Meg, giving one of the most gut wrenching performances I've seen in a film. It is her suffering that sells the film and she succeeds admirably. Not every actress would do this role, and she should be applauded. Blanche Baker is such an evil (BEEP) as Ruth that she just made my stomach churn at her presence. Her sons were all played well as spoiled brats enjoying the evil acts they are doing, showing that children can prove to be as cruel as adults. These kids make Stewie from FAMILY GUY look like Opie Taylor. William Atherton is good as the adult David, but his scenes feel out of place and don't really provide any resolution. I've always liked Atherton as an actor, and I wish he had more to do. Some of the reviewers here along with my friends at Amazon had stated that "The Girl Next Door" is the most shocking for 07' and probably for the decade which I too agree upon. It's well directed, brilliantly acted (by some), and well written, but overall it's a film not made for the right reasons, and made to exploit your anger at the shocking elements of the film rather than bring this harrowing subject matter to the attention it deserves. They say the book is better then the movie, sorry I doubt I'll ever pick that up.

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More The Girl Next Door reviews
review by . July 03, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: extremely disturbing but true account, Baker was terrifying     Cons: ...     The Bottom Line:   "Hallelujah, hallelujah  God bless the child who suffers"  ~Shania Twain     Today I had the unfortunate experience of watching The Girl Next Door which was adapted to screen by Daniel Farrands & Philip Nutman from the book by Jack Ketchum. This is a surrealistic take on a coming of age movie like Stand …
review by . December 25, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Dvd cover
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is a film based on Jack Ketchum's novel, which is based on true events. I've seen a lot of horror films in my time, and I have to say that the scariest ones are always the ones that hit close to home. When you read the newspaper, watch the news, you sometimes see and hear things that are almost unbelievable that humanity can sink into such aberrations. This film borders around the line between exploitation and voyeurism, but believe me, "The Girl Next Door is a realistic, disturbing …
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Based on the novel by acclaimed author Jack Ketchum,The Girl Next Doordraws its nerve-wracking power from a real-life horror show--the torture of Sylvia Likens and her sister by Gertrude Baniszewski and her offspring in the mid-1960s (the case also serves as the basis for the filmAn American Crime). Here, the Likens character is a recently orphaned teen (Blythe Auffarth) taken in by Ruth Chandler (Blanche Baker), a single mother who plies her adolescent sons and their friends with alcohol and lax supervision. Ruth takes an almost instant disliking to the bright young girl and her sister (who is afflicted with polio) and mounts a campaign of mental and physical abuse upon them; her sons quickly fall into step behind their mother, and a neighborhood friend (Daniel Manche) struggles with his own participation in the atrocities. As true crime thrillers go,The Girl Next Doorsucceeds on many fronts: Baker and Auffarth give impressive performances, and the violence, though harrowing, is never offered as exploitation. Director Gregory Wilson also keeps the pace brisk and breathtaking as the torture escalates; however, he is less capable in the expositional scenes, and the script by Daniel Farrands and Philip Nutman has a leaden ring at times (which undoes the efforts of the younger cast). Still, it's challenging fare for strong-hearted horror and suspense fans. The DVD includes two sets of commentary: one by Wilson, producer Andrew van den Houten, and cinematographer/co-producer...
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Director: Gregory Wilson
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Release Date: 17 October 2008 (Italy)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Daniel Farrands, Philip Nutman
Runtime: 91 min
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