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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 William M. Miller, and another by Ketchum and the screenwriters, who pull no punches in expressing their displeasure over changes made to the film's conclusion (and their assessments are entirely correct). Interviews with the cast and crew and the original screenplay (in DVD-ROM format) round out the supplemental features.--Paul Gaita
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CastMark Margolis, William Atherton, Kevin Chamberlin, Blanche Baker, Blythe Auffarth, Dean Faulkenberry, Gabrielle Howarth, Benjamin Ross Kaplan, Spenser Leigh, Daniel Manche
DirectorGregory Wilson
Genre:  Crime, Drama, Thriller
Release Date:  17 October 2008 (Italy)
MPAA Rating:  R
Screen WriterDaniel Farrands, Philip Nutman
Runtime:  91 min
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More The Girl Next Door reviews
review by . January 31, 2010
Human Brutality Know's no Bounds
  WARNING, contains spoilers.       Who is worse; the abuser who uses their position of power to torture and maim innocent people, or the person who sits idly by and allows the abuse to continue?       How can I possibly review a movie like The Girl Next Door? I've been sitting in front of my computer screen for the last thirty minutes, knowing that I have to write something about this film but unable to do so. How can I write about the shocking nature …
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 …
review by . February 11, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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