A yuppie horror movie, in which newlyweds move into a house and are insidiously terrorized by a deranged person close to them, THE NEIGHBOR goes about its task competently, but does little to improve on the form.
It's 1943, and little Myron Hatch's mother dies in childbirth. Myron, clearly in love with his mother, suffocates the new baby and escapes undetected. Flash forward to the present, as Hatch (Rod Steiger), now an ob/gyn, puts his family's house up for sale and moves next door. When Mary (Linda
Kozlowski) and John Westhill (Ron Lea) look at the house, Hatch is taken by Mary's resemblance to his mother and the sale is made.
The obsessed Hatch watches Mary constantly and steals her photo, keeping it next to a snapshot of his mother. When he learns Mary is pregnant, he recommends a doctor, then orchestrates an emergency so he can see Mary himself. During the examination, he advises Mary to take her vitamin
supplements and tries to give her amniocentesis, but she runs out, sensing something is wrong.
Hatch secretly replaces Mary's vitamins with a subtle poison and when John confides his fear of losing his job and having to move, poisons John's boss as well, then hides the body. Mary grows sicker and more suspicious of Hatch; she takes his "vitamins" to her doctor, who sends them for testing.
When the dead boss' watch turns up in their car, Mary tries to convince John that Hatch is out to get them. They investigate, and learn about Hatch's dead brother, then discover a photo of his mother. Though they now understand Hatch's motives, it's almost too late for them to escape his clutches.
Hatch kills Mary's doctor, and John's boss surfaces in the sewer across the street. While the police are questioning John, Hatch comes after Mary, apparently planning to abort her child. Mary stabs him in the heart with a large needle. Their ordeal over, Mary and John look forward to life with
their new baby.
THE NEIGHBOR preys on fears like those that fueled THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE and THE GUARDIAN--an apparently helpful stranger proves to be a malicious force determined to destroy a couple's family. The familiar scenario works against THE NEIGHBOR, whose professional sheen, from the creepy
music to the requisite low angle shots, can't hide its formulaic construction. The set-ups are obvious--the climax of the scene in which Mary finally kills Hatch, for instance, is telegraphed by the prominent placement of the murder weapon--and the payoffs aren't quite big enough. Perhaps more
important, the grandfatherly Steiger seems far more pathetic than evil or insane. Without an authentically ominous villain, THE NEIGHBOR falls flat. (Violence.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: R
- Review: A yuppie horror movie, in which newlyweds move into a house and are insidiously terrorized by a deranged person close to them, THE NEIGHBOR goes about its task competently, but does little to improve on the form. It's 1943, and little Myron Hatch's moth… (more)