The killer combination of talented horror writer and director Marcus Dunstan and the sensational acting skills of Josh Stewart returns with The Neighbor the pair’s third feature together after the crazy and creative The Collector and its equally amazing sequel The Collection.
Cutting his terror creating teeth by penning the screenplays to Feast, Piranha 3DD and Saw IV to 3D with his writing partner Patrick Melton The Neighbor is much different to the torture porn territory he started in opening more like a dark crime thriller than anything else.
Josh Stewart plays John who along with his wife Rosie (Starry Eye’s Alex Essoe) is tangled up in the drug business due to his connection with his evil uncle the boss of all illegal activities in the Mississippi area. Desperate to be free from the clutches of crime and head off to a new life in Mexico the pair have been collecting cash and only need one more job before then can make their escape.
Keeping themselves to themselves due to the nature of their business and connections they are unaware of their neighbor Troy (comedian Bill Engvall playing extremely against type) who lives with his two sons on a large patch of land nearby in the middle of nowhere where they all reside.
However Troy and his family are hiding secrets far more disturbing than Josh and Rosie have or could have imagined and a fateful incident plunges the pair into his world where they most fight to survive against foes with far more to lose than just their lives.
Dunstan has most definitely perfected his storytelling and directing ability over his three movies showcasing both skills in The Neighbor which features some stand out scenes for both dialogue and artistic direction from the great opening onwards.
Packed with tension from the start this is a claustrophobic horror thriller that builds perfectly to a chaotic climax where there is no good or evil only differentiating shades of grey. John and Rosie although the central protagonists are far from heroes with both although morally motivated doing whatever they can to get through the arduous experience as they are pitted against the neighbor.
Instantly likable Josh Stewart is an effortless actor adhering the audience to his dilemma from the first few moments we see him on screen. Believable as both a man who has regrettably taken a wrong turn in his life and someone capable of standing up to the likes of Troy Dunstan makes sure to reveal as much of John’s weakness as his strength allowing Stewart to bring a full formed and highly poignant character to life.
Alongside him Alex Essoe more than holds her own again obviously enjoying being able to inhabit a three dimensional creation with her own drives and fears like Rosie who would have been little less than a screaming damsel in distress and undress in a similar film penned by another writer.
The neighbor himself is just as complex and Troy and his boys, played wonderfully by Engvall, Luke Edwards and Ronnie Gene Blevins, may seem like stereotypical hick horror villains at first but we soon learn there is much more behind what they do and why they have been set on this particular wicked and warped path.
Gripping all the way along The Neighbor defies your expectations in both story and quality proving Marcus Dunstan as one of the most exciting horror makers out there. Here’s hoping there are plenty more collaborations between him and Stewart planned as so far all three have been outstanding.