Neighbor (2009) does not leave you guessing very long, bringing us into the very deranged character of "The Girl" (America Olivo). We are introduced to her through a couple short scenes where she has bound and tortured people in their homes. Cutting their flesh biting their skin while showing a psychopathic joy in their suffering. We can see her cruel actions in purposely killing an elderly woman by switching out her life saving medication, her nonchalant reason of wanting to see how long it would take the lady to die exemplifies her callous glee in killing. Already you can see that a lot of this film will be carried by the lead.
As the movie sets up the other characters we see The Girl on the edges of the action, in a bar or a bookstore. She is infiltrating the community looking for the link that will get her in, In this case it seems to be anyone she comes across, but mainly we see Don Carpenter (Christian Campbell) a love lorn musician who with his friends are the only ones we see in the film that are not already victims. Director Robert Angelo Masciantonio is taking the common middle class neighborhood and showing how behind the closed doors we do not know what is happening. Safety is thinking that it can't happen to you, even though gruesome murders are on the nightly news next door is never a place you would consider as the next target.
The Girl is successful because everyone thinks they are safe in their cul-de-sacs, Don with his sound proof recording studio wakes to realized that the sinister Girl is a real threat as she proves it with a pair of clippers. The very gruesome realistic torture affects make will make the squeamish turn their heads and block their ears as holes are drilled into flesh. Casual in her approach knowing that neighbors never knock on each others doors she rips and cuts her way through Don as he goes through the stages of being a victim. First his rage and then he negotiates, then he begs and hallucinates, all the while Olivio plays the part of loon with a zeal essential to pull off the role. So cruel and fucked up that she does the one kind of torture a man does not want to see.
Masciantonio plays the lines between reality and fantasy well and leaves the viewer in a state of anxiety guessing what evil act will come next. Upping the ante each time we let relax in the slightest. The torture is well cut with closeups and the after affects of her acts even when not seeing the gruesome cuts. This said so there are enough bloody gory fake blood spurting practical effects to satisfy the most depraved viewer.
What is underwhelming about this film is that although The Girl is strongly motivated in her killing ways we never really get why she is how she is. Willing to harm without regard but just being motivated does not round out the character. The viewer is left with "just a crazy bitch". Leaving the turn that she will totally get away with her crimes because of her amazing luck that another killer had escaped from prison just at this time. Or did she mastermind that too?