Love Thy Neighbor (2005)
R1 - America - Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jari Kovalainen (9th March 2007).
The Film

After seeing several cable TV-films (courtesy of “Echo Bridge Home Entertainment”) from America in the past year, I´m beginning to get used to them. This means that they´re hardly anything that “great”, but with the right, laidback attitude they can be mildly entertaining. One must also understand that they´re usually tightly aimed for a certain group and are presented in cable channels in the US that are focused on certain themes. Disaster and Sci-fi films are shown e.g. on the “Sci Fi” channel and films like “Love Thy Neighbor (2005)” (from “MarVista Entertainment”) are shown e.g. on the “Lifetime Television” channel - basically aimed for women. Not surprisingly, the film aimed for women usually has a woman in the lead role, and in this case it´s Laura Benson (Alexandra Paul - e.g. “Melrose Place (1999)”, and “Baywatch (1992-1997”).

Laura wakes up in the middle of night when the family dog is barking, only to get the shock of her life. An home invasion is in progress, and the group of burglars are carrying the loot to their car. One of the men sees the stunned Laura, who is escaping into the other room with her daughter Erin (Ksenia Solo). The man tries to break into the room, but the sound of the police finally forces him and the others to leave. The dog is killed. In the next morning, Laura´s husband Jim (Gary Hudson - from e.g. “Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)”) is trying to comfort his trembling wife, but it´ll take some time before everything will be normal. After recognizing the main intruder (a known killer and rapist) from the police line-up, the healing process can start. Laura still has constant nightmares and also visions - seeing the glimpse of intruders from time to time. Is the nervous breakdown near? Jim sees that the only way to put everything behind them is to move to the more secure neighbourhood - in this case to the idyllic, but gated, suburban area, with fancy electronic locks and security. Things are getting a pleasant start, when the (over) friendly neighbour Janice Rivers (Shannon Lawson) drops by and is welcoming them to the small community. This will start the new chapter for the Benson´s family; the fresh and safe start for Laura, a new school for Erin and less worries for Jim - who is very busy at his work. Their only “problem” seems to be the happy one; Janice from next door means well, but is constantly trying to spend some time with Laura (“I won´t take no for an answer!”) and is almost inviting herself in on a daily basis. In the middle of all the sunshine, something still isn´t right. Erin´s cat is found mutilated (animals are not safe in this film) and the prowler has been seen at night inside the gates. The nice and friendly Janice is also starting to show her true manipulative and unstable nature. When Jim has to go away for a business trip for a while, the nightmares are about to turn into reality for Laura.

“Love Thy Neighbor” - directed by Paul Schneider - is a rather predictable thriller, which doesn´t offer nail biting suspense, nor the twists that would surprise the audience. The script is so safely done, that you see all the important plot point coming from miles away and the front cover is pretty much giving away the last piece of (potential) surprise. The “Laura and her nightmares” theme is the only thing that is making the audience a bit “hmm, what´s going on here?”, but the rest of the film is quite straightforward. Fortunately the actors are all decent, “fit” for the roles and especially Shannon Lawson makes the best for her fruitful character. Janice is also the best written character in the film and her “transformation” is quite nicely done. The film keeps you at least interested for 90+ minutes - I have seen worse - but without any real “suspense”.

Video

The film is presented in Anamorphic 1.78:1 - looking a bit dull, but fairly good. There´s some grain and the colours are not always vivid, but black levels are solid and it´s not that this is a super-slick looking film in the first place. Some edge enhancement can be spotted. “Single layer” disc is coded “R1” and runs 88:56 minutes (NTSC). There are 15 chapters.

Audio

The film offers one audio track, which is English Dolby Digital 5.1. There are no subtitles, nor Closed Captions. The track is a disappointment, since it´s (again - I might add) basically a “3.0 Mono” - meaning that you get the same track from all front channels, including the dialogue. You have some “artificial echo” on the rear channels, but no proper surround really. The track is clean, but is sounding too echo-ish for my taste.

Extras

4 bonus trailers are included (running 5:29 minutes) before the “Main menu” (they can be skipped); “Night of Terror (TV/2006)”, “Salvage (2006)”, “Disaster Zone: Volcano in New York (TV/2006)”, and “Obsession (1997)”. And that´s it.

Overall

“Love Thy Neighbor” is not a horror film - let alone slasher, and it doesn´t offer many surprises, but this harmless TV-film is not a total waste of time after all. The DVD is pretty much bare bones and I can´t fully cheer for the technical aspects either.

For more info, please visit the homepage of Echo Bridge Home Entertainment.

The Film: Video: Audio: Extras: Overall:

 


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