Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

Lunch » Tags » Movies » Reviews » The Girl Next Door » User review

The Girl Next Door

A movie directed by Gregory Wilson

< read all 4 reviews

Human Brutality Know's no Bounds

  • Jan 31, 2010
  • by
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 of this film, about the brutality of human nature, the sickening imagery of a young and innocent girl forced to suffer and die to appease the demons of an insane woman? I know not the words needed to describe this film, but I will do my best none the less.

Let in 1958 in suburban America, The Girl Next Door tells the story of two newly orphaned girls, Meig and Susan (who is afflicted with polio and uses leg braces to walk) who are sent to live with their Aunt Ruth after their parents are killed in an accident. David, a young boy who lives in the house next door, takes an immediate liking to her and is thrilled to learn that he'll be able to see her every day. If one is unfamiliar with the themes of this film when they start watching it, you might mistake it at first for something along the lines of My Dog Skip, a coming of age story set in the 50's about a boy and his friends discovering all life has to offer. The contrast between the opening ten to twenty minutes and the rest of the film is probably the most powerful aspect of the film. The children go from stealing dirty magazines from their parents and thinking fondly about what it might be like to see a real woman, the next they are torturing and raping a young girl who has done nothing to deserve their hatred and scorn.

From the very beginning it is clear that Aunt Ruth has a strange dislike for these two girls. It begins simple enough with Ruth verbally abusing Meig and her sister for being too "lady like" and calling her a whore for making an oil painting for David, but quickly evolves into something far more sinister. David, as a close friend to Ruth's sons, has ample access to the house and witnesses first hand the brutality of Ruth when she hangs Meig by her arms from the ceiling and leaves her there to suffer all night.

There are many themes that are worth looking at in this film. One is the sense of helplessness that David feels when all the adults he knows have either turned a blind eye to the abuse, want only to mind their own business, or are active participants of the torture. David seems to be the only person in the film that knows exactly what is happening and knows it's wrong, and yet does nothing to stop it. I do not want to excuse his actions at all; after all how long can someone ignore the actions of evil without turning into a monster themselves? But it isn't hard to understand why he allowed the abuse to continue; in his mind there was nothing he could have done. For children, especially those of his age (thirteen) adults represent authority, to be respected and obeyed. But even when Ruth's actions become too much for him to ignore, his parents either ignore him or tell him to mind his own business, and the police don't take his warning seriously. Peer pressure also is a major factor in how David decides to act. His best friends not only know about what is going on, but enthusiastically take part in it as well. There are few things more disturbing then a group of young children, ages eight to fourteen, boys and girls, attentively watching the oldest amongst them rape and cut a defenseless girl while sipping on a bottle of root beer. Even the youngest amongst them would like nothing more then to cut Meig with a knife to mark her as the "whore" Ruth believes she is. These children are David's best friends, kids he's known forever and grew up with. How can he turn on them?

But as I said before, I don't want to excuse David's actions. If fact many times I found myself pleading with David to do something, anything, to make it stop. "You know what's right David" I'd find myself saying, "you have to do something, and you know it." Regardless of the peer pressure, regardless of his authority figures refusal to intervene, David is still the only person in the film with a sense of right wrong; it is his responsibility to do something.

This is not a film for everyone. Although most of the abuse is done off camera and is implied rather then shown, the graphic nature of this film is truly horrifying. I could barely finish this film, and I normally have a very strong stomach. Evil is hard to confront, most people would rather turn their backs and pretend it doesn't exist, so when it is presented in such clear and unmistakable terms, such as in this film, its devastating to its viewers. The Girl Next Door is not a snuff film; it is a dark and unforgiving look into the dark side of American suburbia. Watch at your own risk.

Replay value; low.
Human Brutality Know's no Bounds Human Brutality Know's no Bounds

What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
February 28, 2010
I've always wanted to check this one out, although I can't seem to find it.  I keep hearing this is a tough one to watch, but I've yet to find a movie that I couldn't sit through.
February 28, 2010
Tell you the truth neither have I, I've found movies I've had to pause on occasion for a few minutes (like this one) but non I've not been able to finish.
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 …
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 …
About the reviewer
Jonathan J.D. Lane ()
Ranked #119
I am a member of the US Air Force and presently serve overseas at RAF Mildenhall about three hours north of London. I grew up in Pappilion Nebraska and Crestview Florida, but since joining the Air Force … more
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this movie


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...
view wiki


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
© 2014 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since