Destroy All Neighbors (2024) Movie Review – Excellent special effects elevate this mundane horror comedy

Excellent special effects elevate this mundane horror comedy

None of us want a bad neighbour. The moment we get an inkling of one, perhaps due to loud music, barking dogs, or rude and offensive behaviour, our anxiety levels can rise as we wonder how we’re going to deal with them. 

“Perhaps they’ll calm down eventually,” we tell ourselves, in the hope that our unruly neighbours will cease to be a nuisance. And in some cases, yes, they might calm down. But as many of us know, our neighbours can become real problems that upend our lives and give us cause to consider the ‘M word.’

What is this M word? We’re referring to ‘Move’ as in the context of moving house. But you still get points if you assumed we were referring to murder, which is something some of us might fantasize about whenever our terrible neighbours give us cause for yet another sleepless night. We all know murder is wrong, of course, so this obviously isn’t something we are condoning. But it’s easy to slip into murderous fantasies when the people living beside us cause us neverending amounts of trouble.

Murder is the last thing on William Brown’s (Jonah Ray Rodrigues) mind, the protagonist of this latest movie from Shudder. When this prog-rocker struggles to compose his latest piece of music because of Vlad, his noisy new neighbour, he doesn’t contemplate killing him. But when he finally plucks up the courage to confront the man at his dingy apartment, a ridiculous and near-cartoonish series of events ensue, resulting in the inconsiderate neighbour’s accidental demise. 

William tries to cover up Vlad’s death by chopping him into pieces but his best-laid plans come to nought when his actions result in the deaths of others. It’s not long before he has chalked up a small body count, much to the dismay of his girlfriend Emily (Kiran Deol) who discovers him in a bloody mess while he is trying to dispose of yet another corpse. 

From the premise of the movie, you might assume it is a farcical horror comedy about a man suffering a nightmarish evening wherein everything that could go wrong ultimately does. It is that, for the first half of the movie at least. But as William’s mind begins to unravel, so too does the movie, as it moves from murderous mayhem to a surreal (and psychedelic) account of William trying to compose a piece of music with the help of his dead neighbours who offer him guidance while in their rotting, grotesque forms.

Director Jose Forbes, who is primarily known for his work in music videos, is seemingly trying to create a movie that harkens back to the splatterfests of the 1980s, such as Basket Case and Re-Animator. With plentiful amounts of gore and hideous creations brought to life using puppetry and heavy prosthetics, his movie certainly doesn’t look too dissimilar from a horror flick of that era. But while the effects work is excellent, Destroy All Neighbors doesn’t contain the wit or the originality of the best splatter films from the 80s, and in its second half, it descends into a confusing and mediocre mess from which it never returns. 

Cameos from Kumail Nanjiani as a tetchy security guard and Thomas Lennon as a wimpy music label owner help to enliven the movie when it does threaten to lose viewer interest. And the performances of Jonah Ray Rodrigues and Alex Winter (unrecognizable as Vlad, who is less an impaler and more the impaled) also ensure it remains watchable. But they can only do so much with a script that loses its wit and its charm as it drags on towards its nonsensical and unsatisfying end.

Destroy All Neighbors could have been good, shlocky fun, but after losing momentum, it becomes a mostly tedious gore-fest that shambles to the finish line like a decaying zombie with no sense of direction. The excellent SFX work never fails to impress but outside of effects artist Gabe Bartalos’ grotesque creations and the admirably enthusiastic performances, the movie begins to irritate, much like a nuisance next-door neighbour who drives you up the wall!

Read More: Destroy All Neighbors Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 5/10

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