Anyone that has ever lived in an apartment has had experiences with all types of shady individuals. There’s the very quiet withdrawn person that is usually easy to live by but secretly deep down you think they are weird and may have deeper issues. There’s the obnoxious and loud neighbor that blasts their music or shows no respect for anyone around them- the list could go on and on. GOOD NEIGHBORS is a film that combines all those clichés and assumptions into each character and wraps them in a film that isn’t quite as subtle as it seems to want to be.
New Montreal resident, Victor (Jay Baruchel), moves into an apartment complex and makes acquaintance with his new neighbors Spencer (Scott Speedman) and Louise (Emily Hampshire). Spencer is wheelchair bound and a bit mysterious where as Louise is very peculiar and has a deep love of cats. The area they live in has been plagued by a series of rapes and murders that have other tenants on edge. Victor begins to develop feelings for Louise even as she becomes increasingly more peculiar when another neighbor murders her two cats. Victor attempts to be the buildings go to nice guy by building a ramp for Spencer and walking Louise home from work until there comes a point where things in the building may not be exactly what they seem.
GOOD NEIGHBORS is through and through a character driven thriller that for a majority of the film seems more mumblecore than straightforward thriller. For the first half of the film we basically just witness each character interact alone or with each other as we establish just how their relationships might end up until a specific turning point. There comes a time when each character has a very odd character quirk that starts the beginning of plot twists. Instead of going down the path of who might do what the motivations are put right on front street and we know the intentions of the characters but they overlap so we instead question who is going to come out on top.
The character of Louise is the very definition of weird cat lady. In some ways she was my least favorite character in the film, but she also has some of the most intriguing character moments. Victor at times seems to be the easy target of shady behavior because he’s the new guy and a bit delusional but all three have very strange habits or behavior that trying to predict their behavior is pointless. The unpredictable nature of each character does add to the tension but also became grating on my patience.
The set up of the film seems to be focused on the mystery of who the looming serial rapist/killer is, until about halfway through it takes a complete left turn and that mystery is almost completely wiped clean and we focus only on the repercussions of characters actions and what will become of each of them. The series of small twists are interesting to some extent but ultimately I rolled my eyes more than a few times. The turning point had me much less interested on where the film was going to end and much more interested in the performances of the characters.
GOOD NEIGHBORS is not a terrible way to spend a couple hours but when it comes to horror/thrillers that are filled with similar works such as this there are much better options out there. Genre buffs looking for some gore will be bored to tears aside from a couple blood spurting scenes here and there as the film relies on the mood set from the characters. Scott Speedman was a lot of fun to watch in the film and in many ways carries it to the end. If GOOD NEIGHBORS does one thing effectively it’s the fact that I will likely be judging all of my neighbors even more harshly from here on out because it proves that there really is no confident way of saying you really know what people are capable of.