Next Door

Next Door


Reviewed by: George Williamson

John's not angry. His girlfriend may have left him - and discussed his 'problem' with Ake, her new man - but there's no reason to be distressed. She came, collected her stuff and left; it's all over now. Besides, the girls next door seem to be friendly, not to mention attractive. A little strange though, what with the hoarding of food and the stack of furniture blocking the door, but life would be pretty dull if we were all the same.

Shortly after the breakup with Ingrid (Anna Bache-Wiig), John is riding the elevator home and is drawn to the woman standing next to him: a pretty girl, but slightly roughed up; cuts and bruises are visible - the hem of her dress is slightly torn. Realising he's her neighbour she asks him inside to help her move some furniture. The interior of the flat is strangely huge, filled with grotty furniture messily strewn with all manner of possessions. He also meets her sister - attractive, but, like the decor, somewhat battered looking - and they sit down, have a glass of wine and discuss his life - the thin apartment building walls having left them experts in his relationship. At first their overwhelming familiarity with his past drives him away, but soon he finds himself with an insuppressible urge to return to their murky den.

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Next Door has a macabre charm - the grimy detail of it will be familiar to fans of Seven - but occasionally feels deeply surreal and dreamlike, very much in debt to Blue Velvet and The Shining. Unfortunately the atmosphere that causes these flattering comparisons also makes the almost inevitable twist fairly obvious early on, and nothing about the events is particularly original. That said, the production design is fascinatingly intricate - the endless dimly lit corridors of the girls' flat are beutifully grubby and claustrophobic - and the music is aptly menacing; Kristoffer Joner is convincing as the lead, and Cecilie A. Mosli and Julia Schacht are suitably perculiar as the duo of alluring but weird sisters with whom he sinks into a sadomasochistic relationship.

Sex and violence are always exciting; visceral and animalistic base instincts, which can leave viewers aroused or acutely uncomfortable depending on the filmmaker's portrayal. But there's always a fine line, where artistic credibility is stretched thin and questions of exploitation are raised. Naboer isn't a Giallo slasher movie - and the brutality is insufficiently offensive to venture into the realms of Gaspar Noé, forcing physical revulsion - but it is too obviously aimed at titillation, and ends up feeling almost as seedy as its characters.

While Next Door is technically well made and has a clever - if unoriginal - plot, its mixture of sex and violence doesn't say anything that's not been said better before and overall it leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

Reviewed on: 07 Sep 2006
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Dumped by his girlfriend and seduced by his neighbours, John is beginning to lose his mind.
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Chris **1/2

Director: Pål Sletaune

Writer: Pål Sletaune

Starring: Kristoffer Joner, Cecilie Mosli, Julia Schacht, Anna Bache-Wiig, Michael Nyqvist, Oysein Martinsen

Year: 2005

Runtime: 75 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Denmark, Sweden, Norway


EIFF 2006

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If you like this, try:

Blue Velvet