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The Evil Next Door Movie Review

Written by Shane D. Keene

Released by Magnet Releasing

the evil next door poster large

Written and directed by Tord Danielsson and Oskar Mellander
2020, 87 minutes, Not Rated
Released on June 25th, 2021

Dilan Gwyn as Shiran
Linus Wahlgren as Fredrik

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I call this movie, “Steve Pattee’s” redemption. The last two movies were so bad, I had nightmares about them for days. All just me screaming over and over, “PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME WATCH ANOTHER!” But this one looked so absolutely nuts I had no choice but to give it a chance. And I’m glad I did. Because The Evil Next Door is absolutely fucking nuts. And in the best of ways. It’s another example of foreign filmmakers using the seed of an American concept to build a better robot.

There’s a word that comes to mind when I think of U.S. productions like the Conjuring and Insidious franchises. Or rather a term, really: jump scare. These works rely heavily on atmosphere and mood, and use them decently. In spite of this, if you yanked the shocks, they’d be boring as crap. Because those are the foundations of the stories they’re telling, and without them, the narratives fall apart quickly. The Evil Next Door stays sober during the film and remembers to pour concrete for the base to keep from framing a wobbly, unstable disaster.

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This film is most reminiscent of Insidious in the dark, well, insidious and somber mood of it, not in the Jim Carey, self-flagellatory way, mind you. This one is done in the way of virtuoso director/writer team—Tord Danielsson and Oskar Mellander—and they deserve high acclaim for it. The bleakness in it feeds the buildup of dread and suspense to a boiling point early on and doesn’t turn off the heat until it’s over. Exactly what it says it is, this madhouse journey of terror
starts with a young couple, played by Dilan Gwyn and Linus Wahlgren, as they move into a new home, a duplex. The unoccupied unit adjacent to them is run down and shrieks, “I AM A HAUNTED HOUSE,” the first second you see it. But this visual cue—albeit overstated a tad—gives the viewer a clue that, you guessed it, there’s evil next door.

Why is it always the weird, loner kid who sees a ghost and plays hide-and-seek with it instead of running like hell? Wait, I was a weird, loner kid. That aside, the real humanity starts to build in The Evil Next Door as soon as you meet young Lucas, portrayed immensely well by an unnamed child actor. A damn good one. . He’s a quiet boy, haunted already by the death of his mother, and now by the ghost of a little boy who used to live in the other duplex. Left with his
stepmom, Shirin—Dilan Gwyn—so his father can take on a job out of town, a dark evil begins to prey upon them, and Lucas finds a new friend to play with.

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Every good film begins and ends, lives and dies, on the back of a single foundation, a good story. Sure, it takes a village, but if your story sucks, the village will torch your house. In this case, Danielsson and Mellander’s houses are perfectly safe from fire. The story here is smoking hot and smoldering, but the only thing under threat of burning down is your sense of disbelief. That’s just the beginning of what makes this a foreign movie gem. The acting is outstanding, the cast is top-notch, and the three main actors are perfect in their roles, with two, the aforementioned Lucas and Dilan Gwyn, turning in blockbuster performances. No screwing around here.

Oh, and those jump scares I mentioned? There are a sparse number of them in The Evil Next Door, but they’re used with amazing effectiveness, serving to take the almost unbearable, slow-burn tension and snap it like a splintered femur. This filmmaking duo from Sweden is a force to be reckoned with on the international horror scene. Coming from a background of TV series writing and directing, both are new to the feature-length production, but they’re now novices and I’ll be keeping a close eye on them. I recommend you do the same thing.

If you’re looking for some top-shelf terror this weekend, I can’t recommend Steve’s Redemption… er, The Evil Next Door highly enough. 5/5 exhuberant stars, easy.

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Movie: 5 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Shane D. Keene
Staff Reviewer - USA
Shane Douglas Keene is a reviewer, columnist, and poet living in Portland, Oregon. He spends his spare time drinking scotch and/or beer, playing guitar, and thinking of ways to scare small children and puppies. He pays meticulous attention to beard maintenance, mostly because it freaks people out, and he writes about dark fiction and poetry in various places, including his blog at Shotgun Logic.
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