The Good Neighbor Review
It's always nice to mention in cases like this a preface that the film in question isn't precisely horror. The Good Neighbor falls into this magic category between indie drama and horror/thriller, with elements that both compliment and contrast our genre of choice. So, despite our review below, go into the film expecting a minimal level of horror.
The Good Neighbor follows two high school best friends who set up rigs and cameras in their neighbor's house in order to document an artificial haunting. The plan is two-fold in its goal; they want to pioneer a one-of-a-kind documentary on the psychological toll of a haunting, and should the grumpy, old neighbor suffer for it, all the better. The film transverses between the post-incident courtroom case and the happenings of the two friends, all the while seamlessly transitioning from found footage and traditional 3rd person cinematography.
The film's use of a variety of camera perspectives was unique and appreciated. The film was clearly set up to be entirely found footage, with the boys not only thoroughly covering the man's home with cameras, but setting up their bedroom/HQ with cameras to record their reactions and progress. Yet, despite the convenient opportunity to go full found-footage, the director took the liberty of recording scenes outside of these cameras in order to further progress the intrigue through the courtroom flash-forwards and the character insights of James Caan (the "good neighbor"). This blend of perspectives is by no means a first, but it was well-done nonetheless.
The film, despite its obvious thriller and horror connections and teases, remains grounded as more of a disturbing character piece. It spends a majority of its runtime delving into the minds of the two boys and their relationship and intentions with the project. Caan becomes a bit of an afterthought at times, though his enigmatic, tortured soul is evident and fascinating all the same in the scenes he steals.
Without delving too much into it, there is a supernatural element to the film. However, at no point does it become a mainstream process of the film as a whole and remains a subtle construct of the complexity of Caan's situation. It is primarily used as a vehicle for the circumstances the boys are unaware of and it helps drive the story in unique turns.
The solemn film doesn't extract much fear, but it does have long-lasting effects. The two boys, in many ways, parallel the school shooters psyches in eerily passive ways. In many ways, the film can be seen as a commentary to that concept. With such thoughts in mind, it is an interesting study to review, if for no other reason than psychologically analyzing the characters as they experience this unusual series of events.
Horror Qualifier: 3/10
Horror Quality: 2/10
Film Quality: 7/10