Taking a break from Christmas movies and Ultraman to bring you one of Shudder’s newest films, DESTROY ALL NEIGHBORS. I’m a sucker for a good horror comedy–especially some gloopy ones like DEAD-ALIVE. The problem is that a lot of them tend to start off strong and then peter out as they run out of ideas or abandon the comedy to make things more serious. Or they’re just bad. I’m happy to report that DESTROY ALL NEIGHBORS is strong all the way through and will keep you thoroughly entertained.
The film follows William Brown (Jonah Ray Rodrigues from MST3K) as a struggling prog rocker trying to finish his debut album while working as a sound engineer for Scott (Thomas Lennon). His girlfriend Emily (Kiran Deol) supports him but wishes he would just finish it already as there always seems to be “one more thing” that William needs to finish the album. Right now, it is some peace and quiet. That is going to be in short supply when Vlad (an unrecognizable Alex Winters) moves in next door making all sorts of noise and playing EDM until the wee hours of the morning. William’s sanity starts to fray and instead of his album, all he can think about is how his new neighbor is ruining his life. Things start to get hairy when through a series of accidents, William kills Vlad and then the real fun begins. Will he finally get to finish his prog rock masterpiece or will a series of murderous mishaps do him in for good?
I’ll leave it to you to find the answer but the trip there is well worth it. Having not seen the trailer, I wasn’t sure what to expect going in and the description made it seem like it was going to be more of an “all in his head” thing like THE VOICES. While it does borrow some from that movie, it’s definitely more on the side of DEAD-ALIVE with some gruesome, bloody kills with hilarious effects on William’s sanity.
The gore and special effects are mostly practical and look fantastic. Consider Gabe Bartalos was involved, I’m not surprised, as he has a long history of bringing some nasty things to life.
The acting is solid. I’ve liked Jonah since his stint on MST3K so it’s nice to see him still flexing those comic chops. Alex Winter is the MVP as Vlad, truly embodying a neighbor from hell and bringing him to vivid life with an accent that is straight out of Eastern Europe. He’s sort of like Fat Bastard crossed with the Tracksuit Mafia from Hawkeye and it works.
What resonated with me the most was William’s plight. As an artist myself, I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking what you need to finish a project is something material like wires or just some perfect setting of tranquility and quiet. This is especially true when starting out. We make all these excuses for why we can’t finish something or how everything has to be just right, when in reality, the tools we needed are already there and we just needed to be shown the way. William’s journey to realizing this through his gore-filled misadventures is the heart of this movie and it hits in just the right way.
That and the awesome prog rocking that goes on in the finale.
It’s not perfect, but it feels just about right to me. I wish there was a little more development between him and his girlfriend but then again, she knew all along that rock and roll was his true love and everything else just fades into the background. It definitely earns its place in the pantheon of weird cult movies that not everyone will get, but the artists will. Especially the prog rockers.
Currently streaming on Shudder. Check it out.