The Killer Next Door Review
When released in the US, The Killer Next Door went by the name Ronnie. It’s a more serious sounding title, one that gives little away and certainly doesn’t promise anything schlocky or trashy as it does it in its current state. That said, it also doesn’t quite promise that we do get, but then again neither does The Killer Next Door. Rather the filmmakers needed to have come up with something in between, something that would perfectly capture its mixture of the crass and the considered.
Or at least this is what it offers during the opening act. We are informed, courtesy of an opening title, that “In the summer of 1988 mayhem, murder and rape came calling…”, yet whilst this is essentially true, it also belies the ordinariness with which the film first greets us. Ronnie is on medication as is his mother with whom he still lives. During the first few scenes we also learn that he works at the local mental hospital situated over the road and that he had an abusive relationship with his father. Later on, we also discover there’s a brother who due for release on parole from the county jail. In other words, what we have is actually surprisingly quiet – it takes us into the lives of these white trash folk but doesn’t parade them or use them as an excuse to indulge in the excessive. Or, rather, this is how things start out…
Soon enough, writer/director Christopher Haifley has the brother return home and Ronnie enacting gun fantasies. As if this signposting weren’t quite blatant enough he also documents plenty of drink and drug abuse, has people scream at the top of their voices and generally heads down the path to melodrama. Moreover, he’s never able to head back to where he started and as such The Killer Next Door becomes nothing more than a standard piece of nonsense.
Indeed, though purportedly based on a true story, Haifley then goes on to have a naked mental patient unconscious in the bathroom, a samurai sword attack and some guy in a thong run through the streets. Quite what it all adds up to is difficult to say, though it should hardly come as a surprise that we’re not exactly inclined to work towards an answer.
Despite all this, the major problem is that the principle questions have been overlooked. Haifley would appear to be so eager to get down to business that he never thinks to explain or at least demonstrate why his characters begin to act the way they do. And with the motivations so muddied, or rather so wilfully ignored, The Killer Next Door merely reveals itself to be a basic piece of exploitation, though even here it is far too prurient to exist on this level. Indeed, it seems to take its “true story” tag as a given to quality, though the likelihood of the film’s events aping those which occurred in ’88 are about as remote as those which found there way into The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Had it been released anamorphically, The Killer Next Door’s presentation would have been near flawless. We get the film in its original aspect ratio and taken from a print that contains only the tiniest hints of damage. Indeed, the clarity of the image is superb, especially for such a low budget work. As for the soundtrack, we get a basic DD2.0 stereo mix which is fine if unimpressive. Again flaws are minimal, though would the film not have been released in cinemas with a 5.1 sound mix? The extras, sadly, are perfunctory at best. We get the theatrical trailer, a brief gallery and text biographies (ranging from one to two pages) for certain cast and crew members.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 07:32:43