The Girl Next Door (2007)
Director: Gregory Wilson
Starring: William Atherton, Blythe Auffarth, Blanche Baker
WARNING: May contain spoilers.
The Girl Next Door is a movie based on Jack Ketchum’s novel of the same name. The story tells of young, fresh faced Meg Loughlin who (along with her disabled sister) moves in with her Auntie Ruth after her parents died in a fatal accident. This movie (and the novel) are loosely based on events that actually happened to Sylvia Likens in 1965.
In the beginning, we meet the now older David Moran who recalls his story of Meg after witnessing someone on the street getting knocked over by a speeding car. He remembers Meg and the events that happened surrounding her story which then introduces us into the main plot of the movie. We then meet Meg, who is instantly charismatic and endearing to the point where she is instantly loveable. She’s kind, sweet and all round a nice girl. I give a lot of credit here to Blythe Auffarth as she did such an amazing job in the lead role of Meg by giving her so much depth. I found that the characters within this movie were incredibly developed as the movie progressed which gave it such a three dimensional feel that I sometimes cannot find with some movies.
The movie shows a kind of stereotypical 1950’s vibe, and everything is there with regard to the scenery, the colours and the products. When we meet the neighbourhood kids, they’re typical ‘about town’ kids who meet up and play around and get up to mischief of which they probably wouldn’t get away with around their folks. It all begins so innocently. I would say, however, that this movie would require a little bit of background information into the Sylvia Likens story, as this movie does include some of the horrors that she was faced with in real life, which adds a whole new depth to what you’ll be watching.
Blanche Baker, who plays Auntie Ruth is a charismatic actress that pulls you in with her portrayal of the psychopathic, delusional aunt. She lets the kids drink beers and smoke, tells them about things they’re probably a little too young to really care about and most of all, she condones the violence that is set upon Meg within the second half of the movie. Auntie Ruth is the character that I think essentially makes this movie a horror. Her manipulation of the children sets her apart from any other antagonist I’ve come across. She shows no mercy and can easily convince the kids to do any kind of unspeakable thing they want to the young, suffering girl which gives these kids the idea that they can do anything and give no care as to the horrors they are committing. The character creates a tense atmosphere that resonates throughout the picture, which, along with the fantastic soundtrack, makes for such a dark and edgy take on the original story which was already horrifying in itself.
The second half of the movie is where things get intense, Meg is tied up in the basement where she is tortured for a prolonged amount of time, beaten and raped by the mere children she thought would be her friends, essentially. It’s a brutal section to watch, and the tortures she is subjected to can be a little difficult to palate when you consider this as an adaptation of real life. You really feel sorry for Meg, but especially Sylvia. The final scene, shows Meg beaten raw and finally unable to help herself as David sits by her. It’s such a strong, emotional scene that really gets under your skin with the fact that he was the only one who managed to help her in the little way that he could.
The Girl Next Door is a movie you have to watch, it’s tense, disturbed and absolutely terrifying but it really makes you think and personally, I think it did its job incredibly. The portrayal of such a brutal crime really gives you shivers but is definitely a movie to go on your watch list. I give it 5 skulls out of 5 right off the bat (☠☠☠☠☠.)
If you have seen The Girl Next Door, let me know what you think of it. If you haven’t, give it a watch and let me know. I’d love to hear your comments.