Lifetime Film Review: The Killer Next Door (dir by Ben Meyerson)

Ah, the suburbs!

Listen, it doesn’t matter how big your house is or how nice of a career you’ve got going or how pretty your family might be.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a nice pool or a nice house or if your sister-in-law lives right next door.  It doesn’t matter how friendly the neighbors seem to be or that there’s a really hot guy at your new job.  If you live in the suburbs, you are screwed.

At least, that’s what I’ve learned from watching Lifetime movies.  Now, I should admit that I live in a suburb and …. well, it’s pretty nice.  But I’m guessing that my neighborhood must be the exception to the rule because, as I’ve learned from watching Lifetime, every other suburban neighborhood is a hotbed of murder, betrayal, and kidnapping.

Take The Killer Next Door, for instance!

Julie (Andrea Bogart) and her ten year-old son, Matty (Nicholas Borne), have just moved into a nice, big house in the suburbs.  Julie’s been having a tough time ever since her husband was killed in a tragic auto accident.  But, finally, it looks like things might be getting better!  She’s got a new home and a new job as a personal trainer, where she meets big, handsome Blake (John-Michael Carlton).  Living right next door, she’s get her sister-in-law, Alison (Hannah Barefoot).  As Alison makes clear, she’s more than willing to help Julie in whatever way possible.  Alison definitely wants to look after Matty whenever Julie can’t be there.  In fact, Alison is so determined to be there for Matty that she even seems to get a little bit offended when Julie hires a nanny!  Hmmmm, I wonder where this could be leading….

As Julie soon discovers, she’s moved into a very tight-knit and somewhat gossipy neighborhood.  In fact, there’s even a website where everyone in the neighborhood can post comments about upcoming events, along with totally mean stuff about the newest member of the community!  Julie quickly discovers — with Alison’s help — that her new neighbors apparently don’t like her!  Little things — like taking the trash out on the wrong day — really set them off.  And then there’s the time that Julie thinks Matty has been kidnapped and she gets the entire neighborhood to set up a search party, just for Alison to come driving up in her SUV with Matty sitting in the passenger’s seat.  It was all just a misunderstanding!  Needless to say, Julie’s neighbors are not amused.  All that drama for nothing….

Anyway, no one should be shocked to discover that Alison isn’t exactly the benevolent sister-in-law that she pretends to be.  In fact, she’s setting Julie up.  But will Julie realize what’s happening or will she be too caught up in arguing with her neighbors to notice that Alison is stealing her son away from her?  You’ll have to watch to find out….

I always enjoy a good, “evil in the suburbs” movie so I enjoyed The Killer Next Door.  It’s pretty obvious from the start that Alison is not to be trusted but that’s actually what makes a movie like this fun.  You know that Julie’s being set up and the suspense comes from trying to guess how long it’s going to take Julie to figure it out.  Mostly, I liked the film’s portrayal of all of Julie’s gossipy neighbors.  No matter what was happening, you could always be sure that one of them would pop up in the background with a disapproving look on their face.  The Killer Next Door was a fun trip to Suburban Hell.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Seduced By My Neighbor (dir by Sam Irvin)

(I recorded Seduced By Neighbor off of Lifetime on November 11th, 2018.)

Awwww, what a happy couple!

That picture above is of Mike (Trevor St. John) and Sarah (Andrea Bogart) relaxing in Sarah’s hot tub.  Sarah’s a single mother who recently lost her husband in a traffic auto accident.  Mike is the self-appointed head of the neighborhood watch and he also recently lost his spouse in a tragic accident.  As soon as Sarah and her daughter, Allie (Sierra McCormick), moved into their new house, Mike introduced himself and made it a point to always drive by the house in his little golf cart and make sure that everything was safe.  How couldn’t Sarah fall in love with such a great, considerate guy?

Or, at least, that’s the way that Mike likes to imagine it.  See, that picture above is just Mike’s fantasy.  That’s the future that he imagines awaits him and Sarah.  What Mike doesn’t take into account is that, while Sarah appreciates his dedication to keeping the neighborhood safe, she’s not interested in being seduced by her neighbor.  Instead, she’s far more interested in Chris (Rocky Myers), the superhot fireman who comes by the house after one of Allie’s friends sets the kitchen on fire.

Realizing that he’s running the risk of losing his fantasy, Mike decides to take action.  He challenges Chris to a game of ping pong, one that quickly spirals out of control.  Mike may win the game but he’s such an obnoxious player that it certainly doesn’t make him look any more attractive in the eyes of …. well, just about anyone.

Well, if ping pong didn’t work, how about murder?

Yes, it turns out that Mike is a psycho.  That really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has ever watched a Lifetime film.  In the wold of Lifetime, your neighbor is always likely to turn out to be an obsessive psychopath.  The more friendly he is, the more likely it is that he’s filled your house with hidden cameras and that he’s spending all of his time watching you on his laptop.  We all know how these things work.

So, Seduced By My Neighbor may sound like a typical Lifetime film but, in general, I like Lifetime films so that wasn’t a problem for me.  Plus, Trevor St. John does a good job playing the psycho, making him friendly and creepy at the same time.  From the minute that Mike shows up, it’s obvious that there’s something a little bit off about him but, at the same time, you can understand how someone still struggling to recover from losing her husband could be taken in by someone who says that he just wants to make sure that everyone in the neighborhood is safe and happy.

And, finally, there’s that ping pong game.  Yes, I’m coming back to the ping pong game because it was definitely the highlight of the film.  Strutting around and yelling every time he scores a point, Mike becomes every dudebro that you’ve ever seen playing pool in a frat house.  Wisely, Chris just kind of smiles and lets Mike have his moment.  That scene was just so over the top and fun that it pretty much epitomized everything that you could want from a Lifetime film.

I won’t spoil it but Seduced By My Neighbor had a good ending, one that revolved around an earlier plot point that, until the final few minutes of the film, I thought the movie had merely abandoned.  It was a properly chilling moment, one that definitely felt appropriate for our paranoid age.