Monday, December 12, 2016

Now on Netflix: The Good Neighbor (2016)

The Good Neighbor movie poster
The Good Neighbor (2016) - Directed by Kasra Farahani; Written by Mark Bianculli, Jeff Richard; Starring Keir Gilchrist, James Caan, Logan Miller.

By Kenny Howell 

Two crappy teenagers try to drive a weird old neighbor crazy in this frustrating thriller.

I feel like there is a germ of a good idea here, and it works on occasion, but its hard to stick with it because of the two leads, Ethan and Sean, played by Keir Gilchrist (It Follows) and Logan Miller. Their performances aren't bad, they're characters are. They are teenagers, Ethan the more rambunctious one and Sean the genius that is hopefully headed to MIT.

However, people that go to MIT are generally not dumb, and Sean definitely seems that way. He definitely has a teenage brain. Ethan and Sean's plan is to mess with a neighbor, an angry old man played by James Caan (The Godfather, Part II). They break into his home, set up a surveillance system, and put together some things to mess with him, like taking control of a door so it slams, or a stereo that they cut on in the middle of the night. The reason is that they are doing some "research". There is a study where researchers got a group of people and told them that people would be interacting within their lives over the next week or so. They wouldn't know who they are, and they are not going to do anything drastic, they are just going to interact. It changed the people's behavior even though the researchers never actually sent anyone to interact with them.

That seems like a study worth its merit, but what the teenagers are doing is not that. They are just messing with an old dude.

As you would imagine, things don't go very well, mostly because they kids keep pursuing it and acting stupid. Ethan does most of the pushing, but Sean goes along with him and definitely enables his behavior.

What The Good Neighbor does next is what saves its premise. They could have easily went to the crazy old man and teenagers attacking each other, but instead Director Kasra Farahani uses it to unfold the story. He fills in the blanks in the past that we don't know, and uses a court case in the future to pepper in the story. We know someone is going to die, but we don't know who is on trial or who is dead. It does hook you in, despite Sean and Ethan's horrible behavior. The film is also saved by Caan who does what he does and really brings a lot of depth to the neighbor character.

The Good Neighbor is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: **1/2

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