Synopsis: Based on the Jack Ketchum novel of the same name, The Girl Next Door follows the unspeakable torture and abuses committed on a teenage girl in the care of her aunt…and the boys who witness and fail to report the crime.
Tagline: In this town murder became the neighborhood game.
Release Date: October 17th, 2008 | MPAA Rating: R | Coolthulhus Earned: 2
Trailer: The Girl Next Door (2007)
The Girl Next Door Review
(Okay, I’m actually going to start this with a bit of a ‘reviewers note’ as it were. (This part was written after the review, when I’d had some time to think and calm down a bit. Rather than change the review, I wrote this addendum.) I love horror books and movies. That should be blatantly obvious to pretty much everyone who visits this site. I can gleefully sink into a book or movie filled with blood, guts, and gore, and come out smiling. However, there’s a few things that get under my skin. One of them is child death for sensational purposes. The other is, apparently, child abuse. I didn’t realize exactly how much this bothered me until I watched this movie.
Some of the reviews for the *book* this movie is based on, talk about how Ketchum ‘goes there’. How he crosses every line rather gleefully. How nothing you think should be safe or sacred is safe or sacred. And people talk about that like it’s a good thing. Part of me wants to take a moment, approach each of those people, and simply ask them “Have you ever been a victim of abuse?” But I won’t. Because that opens up a can of worms I don’t want to open. So, no, I did not like this film, and yes, what you’re about to read is rather strongly worded.)
The Girl Next Door is one of the most disturbing films I’ve watched in a long time. The abuse and everything involved with it is hard to watch. My partner and I both expressed our hesitations about the movie. It’s not, as he put it, an ‘entertaining horror’. Especially given that this is based on a true story. It’s the type of movie that you show in a psych class, and dissect the behaviors of the people involved. It’s not the type of movie you pay $20 for popcorn and drinks to watch. As my partner brought up, this is a movie made for a reason. But, what, exactly, was the reason?
It’s a movie that could provoke so many discussions. Discussions on right and wrong. Discussions on peer pressure. On reporting suspected abuse. So many things! But… was it actually created to do this? Or, considering the source material is book based on a true story by a well-known horror author, was it simply made to bring in money? Obviously, the money-making seems the more obvious reason for creation. In that case, what does that say of our society? There’s nothing I could find on the IMDB page about efforts to bring awareness to child abuse. Nothing mentioned of even a percentage of the profits being given to agencies to help with this sort of thing. That’s… disgusting. (Apparently there’s an author’s note at the end of the book, but I don’t own this book. I’m not going to check it out from the library. I’m not going to seek it out. I’m completely and utterly done with this story, so I’m going off the movie alone.)
From outright physical abuse, to emotional and mental, this movie has a bit of everything lurid and humanly evil in it. The girls are completely and utterly degraded, body, soul, and mind. But they’re not the only ones. Ruth also works on the young boys (her daughters are mostly just spectators, but you know they are absorbing the message), too. She eggs them on, seemingly unwilling to actually visit MOST of the abuses upon the girls themselves, but quite happy to watch them suffer. What she does is the worst, though.
As for the characters, there was a wide range of those, too. The good-hearted neighbor boy who finds himself caught up in circumstances he doesn’t know how to respond to. The little physically disabled sister the older girl tries so hard to protect. The disturbed sons that you can’t really blame because you feel they really are a product of his upbringing. The abusive mother figure. Even though it was the boys who committed most of the physical abuse, it’s Ruth who is the true abusive pervert in this situation.
I know the events in this movie weren’t all the same as what happened in the actual case of Sylvia Likens, but I’m still reviled in ways I can’t begin to explain. I’m sickened by the fact that Jack Ketchum and Hollywood used what happened to that young girl and her sister as a cash grab. Yes, this is a horror movie – it truly, truly is, but there’s no way to justify its existence. There’s no plot here. It’s just 1 hr 31 minutes of shock value gore and torture. Regardless of what some people say, I don’t see this film as educational. It’s a glorification of depravity.
I can’t recommend this film, except for maybe shown in a psychology course for discussion. I will say that they did a great job of turning your stomach, horrifying you, and yet making it so that you could not look away. It effortless held my attention 99 percent of the time.
It was disgusting.
It did not need made.
I’m ashamed this movie even exists.
**This rating is given for the shooting and the acting, only**
Do you want/need more information about child abuse? Do you know someone you think may be being abused or abusing their kids?