Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
The Good Neighbor: Invading Home and Privacy
scariest thing about this new thriller is the ease with which two teens acquire
and illegally install a comprehensive surveillance system in the house across
the street. Sean, the one with the technical know-how echoes that sentiment
during their shopping spree. His more popular pal Ethan has the auterist vision
for their so-called “experiment.” They intend to make grouchy old Harold
Grainey believe he is haunted. At least he has it coming—or does he? The more
we see, the more uncomfortable we get during Kasra Farahani’s The Good Neighbor (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
Man Grainey has his set patterns, so the lads know exactly when he will be out
of the house and for how long. In addition to the cameras, they also set up
various remote control switches to give the illusion of uncanny things acting
up in the night. Ethan has a very definite idea of who Grainey is, but it might
not be precisely true.
their haunting effects might be working too well. As we learn from the
flashbacks, the objects they chose to spook-up have particular significance for
Grainey. The fact that the film periodically flashes forward to a criminal
trial certainly suggests the onset of complications, but Farahani will not
reveal who is being prosecuted for what until the third act.
is nice to see an old cat like James Caan can still surprise us. Grainey’s
suburban ranch house gone to seed is worlds removed from the Playboy Mansion
grotto, but he truly looks like he belongs there. Yet, he slowly but steadily
upends all our assumptions in a quietly powerful performance. As Sean, Keir
Gichrest (It Follows, Dark Summer)
continues to be the go to guy for socially awkward teens caught up in sinister
business. However, Logan Miller’s Ethan is so abrasively obnoxious, it
undermines Farahani’s carefully calibrated tonal shifts. It is also frustrating
that fan favorite Tamlyn Tomita is not featured more as the prosecutor.
As one would expect from a film directed by an
art director-concept artist, Neighbor’s sets
and trappings are totally spot on. Production designer Margret Box’s attention
to detail makes Grainey’s home look sad by daylight and ominous at night. At
the risk of being spoilery, Mark Binculli & Jeff Richard’s screenplay
provides a sharp corrective to Don’t Breathe. Frankly, Can’s standout performance makes Neighbor the better film. Recommended for fans of the Misery actor and dark thrillers, The Good Neighbor opens this Friday
(9/16), at the Cinema Village.
Labels: James Caan