The Evil Next Door Movie Review
Written by Joanna K. Neilson
Released by Magnolia Pictures
Written and directed by Tord Danielsson and Oskar Mellander
2020, 87 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Released on 23rd october 2020
Jakob Fahlstedt as Polis
Janna Granström as Julia
Dilan Gwyn as Shirin
Karin Holmberg as Katja
Shirin (Dilan Gwyn) moves into a new home with her loving boyfriend and his little son, Lucas. The attached house next door is meant to be empty - but that doesn't stop Lucas from making a new friend, a boy who apparently lives over there. It also doesn’t explain the mysterious thumps and footsteps coming loudly through the walls. Could it be an imaginary friend? Could it just be the pipes and a house settling?
When Lucas’s father is inevitably sent away on business, the malevolent presence quickly becomes much bolder. Shirin soon realises she will have to fight to protect Lucas from something terrifying, lurking right beside them. There’s really nowhere to run, and the threat is every parent’s worst fear. But even as she figures things out and tries to get help, nobody else will believe her.
So far, yes, this all might sound a bit by the numbers. Is it technically derivative of other, more famous entries in the genre? Yup. Is there a pinch of Insidious in the mix, and a hefty dollop of Babadook’s adult fears? Sure is. A sinister child’s ball frequently gets rolled across the floor to lure Lucas in, and a trap door just refuses to stay hammered shut. Yes, yes, seen all of that before, too. But, by goodness, this flick gets the job done well, sticking with its simple, effectively creepy story, and giving us a very likeable little family, struggling to survive the unbelievable.
The creature design is also superb - an unknowable thing, stalking Shirin as she explores the claustrophobic attics and basements of the house - whether she’s being brave or dumb there is up to you. But frequently you’ll be asking ‘what did I just see?’ as something scuttles and creeps just out of sight during ill-advised explorations. The striking special effects really lift this flick far above what horror fans have probably seen before. That said, please, please, can we get a moratorium on ‘creepy sounds and images appearing on baby monitors’!
Slickly filmed, very well-crafted, this is a satisfying ride into terror, enhanced by its excellent performances. While there are one or two questions remaining in the finale, it's very refreshing not to have it all neatly wrapped up in a bow - and one major cliche it happily avoids is the ‘embattled Professor/psychic explains it all’!
Perhaps that’s why it’s quite short... If anything, it’s just slightly too short - which in horror tends to be a good thing. So let’s hope, if it ever spawns a sequel, that we get to see more of what lies within the house. Though maybe not too much.
Personally, I’d love to survive yet another terrifying night with The Evil Next Door.
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