Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door
USA, 2007, 90 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Biopic, Cult, Drama, Family Issues, Horror, Social Issues, Thriller, Womens Issues
The old adage that hell is for children proves sickeningly true in The Girl Next Door – as does the horror story Gregory Wilson's adaptation of Jack Ketchum's 2005 bestseller is based on: namely the real-life case of Sylvia Likens, a teenager who was tortured to death by her guardians and neighbors in suburban Indianapolis in 1965.
The film version is set in Anytown, USA, in 1958. David and the three brothers who live next door to him have been enjoying their summer vacation catching crawfish and playing games in the woods. The future looks even brighter when his pals' beautiful teenaged cousin, Meg – along with her younger sister, an invalid – moves in; David is smitten. But dark clouds gather as he discovers that the bottle-hitting Aunt Ruth, as everyone calls her, harbors disdain for the young girls who attract the “little men” on her block – and Meg in particular raises her ire. It's not long before insult turns to injury, injury to unthinkable atrocity: Meg is strung up in the family's basement as a virtual piñata for Ruth, her sons and, eventually, the whole neighborhood gang. As for young David, peer pressure renders him helpless to prevent the abuses – and there are many – that befall his would-be sweetheart. In the end, it seems no ghost from the past nor demon from hell could be as truly, frighteningly evil as those that writhe beneath the underbelly of Americana.
Sponsored by The Onion
DIRECTOR: Gregory Wilson
Producer: William M. Miller, Andrew van den Houten
Editor: M.J. Fiore
Screenwriter: Daniel Farrands, Philip Nutman, Jack Ketchum
Cinematographer: William M. Miller
Principal Cast: Blythe Auffarth, Daniel Manche, Blanche Baker