John has just been left by his girlfriend Ingrid. That day he allows himself to be seduced into a mystical and scary world, where it is impossible to separate truth from the liesJohn has just been left by his girlfriend Ingrid. That day he allows himself to be seduced into a mystical and scary world, where it is impossible to separate truth from the liesJohn has just been left by his girlfriend Ingrid. That day he allows himself to be seduced into a mystical and scary world, where it is impossible to separate truth from the lies
John has split up with Ingrid, his girlfriend of two years and, as she calls to gather her stuff from his flat, we gather that the split was not entirely amicable. Soon after, John's vampish neighbours, the older, slightly dominating Anne, and the young, sexually impulsive and vulnerable Kim, persuade him into their flat. They know all about his break-up with Ingrid (they heard it through the wall) and are a bit creepy - for instance, they keep a wardrobe pushed against the door to the flat.
John is not exactly an easy-going laid-back guy. One of the girls tells him a sexually explicit story to arouse him after trapping him in the flat. When he finally starts to succumb, she initiates a violent sadomasochistic game, drawing him in with the promise of sex. After some brutal lovemaking he is shocked when he looks in the mirror and sees the amount of blood on his face. Strange coincidences start appearing and flashbacks suggest John is turned on by violence. Kim and Anne tell different versions of events and John soon feels trapped mentally as well as physically. Like all good horror movies, it ends up nastily and we breathe a sigh of relief as all is explained and we can catch the friendly night bus home, secure in the knowledge that nothing is going to jump out at us.
Next Door pushes limits by including the sex and violence together. The fairly liberal British Board of Film Censors, for instance, says it may, "intervene with portrayals of sexual violence which might, e.g. eroticise or endorse sexual assault." The fact that the sexually violence that we see is largely consensual may allow it to creep through uncut. In its home country of Norway, the film is the first to get an 18 rating in 17 years. You would be right in thinking it is not for the squeamish.
The film has a clever idea as the basis of all the goings on, but if you watch without the recommended several glasses of strong lager you may find you guess the ending all too easily. It is slightly stifled by a derivative feel - like a bad copy of David Lynch of Alfred Hitchcock - and could have benefited from some better pacing to allow the audience to catch its breathe between shocks. For all Next Door's ingeniousness, the camera-work hardly makes the most of the subject matter - although more careful framing and dramatic editing might have notched up the chances of the censors demanding cuts. On a more serious level, the film is quite a reasonable allegory on repression and erotic psychosis. One way or another, it may well earn your grudging attention - just don't try the techniques with your date.
- Aug 6, 2006