Inspired by true events, this thriller set in 1958 follows the harrowing story of two adolescent girls (Blythe Auffarth, Madeline Taylor), who upon losing their parents in an accident are sent to live with their Aunt Ruth (Blanche Baker), a sadistic psychopath. Unbeknownst to the residents of the small New Jersey suburb, the girls endure unthinkable punishment at the hands of their aunt and three cousins.The movie is based on a book by, wait for it, Jack Ketchum.
And how much did I pay to watch?
Again, it was part of my netflix.
And what did I think?
Well, I was looking at some reviews of both the movie and the book and there seemed to be some consensus that a book like this shouldn't be made into a movie. The material in the book is sort of sick, and to see it visually in a movie could be disturbing. Additionally, a lot of people seemed to think that there was no sort of redeeming message that could be taken from the movie once it was made.
I've been having a real tough time trying to figure out how to process all these movies I've been watching. You may have figured out that I haven't been able to immediately write the review once I've watched the film. In the case of this one I think I waited about a week to think through it and write it. The hard part is making sure that someone else's review doesn't color what I write in mine. But thats enough about that...I just wanted to say that its something that I have to contend with.
Ok. So, The Girl Next Door. The thing that was totally amazing about this movie was what it communicated about the way children act when adults either encourage then, or at least don't step in to stop them. Aunt Ruth was truly sadistic, but she was played as a real true believer. Her shaming and humiliation of the older sister, Meg, came across as Aunt Ruth really beleiving that by shaming and humiliating, that she would break Meg of some sort of nasty habits. You know, like when you wash out a kid's mouth with soap they'll think again before they do the same bad thing again. (Not that I have experience with either washing out mouths with soap, or getting my mouth washed out with soap, but I understand what the concept is supposed to do). The problem for Meg was that she wasn't doing anything wrong.
With Aunt Ruth leading the charge against Meg it was fascinating to see her children, and the other neighborhood children, rally to Ruth's cause and participate in and encourage the cruel treatment towards Meg and her sister, Susan. It was incredibly Lord of the Flies, and demonstrated the singular strength of the film--the visual creation of cruel group mentality and communicating the importance of adults setting limits for children.
Oh yeah, and the one good kid in the movie, David, was totally cute. He was such a sweet kid.
So what is the rating? (out of 10)
I sort of agree that it was unnecessary to make this book into a film, but overall it wasn't so bad. I wouldn't watch it again because some of the torture scenes are extremely uncomfortable and just flat out sickening, but I did appreciate it once I sat down to think about it.
I'll give it a 5.