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  Killer Next Door, The Carer Taking Care
Year: 2002
Director: Christopher Haifley
Stars: Adam Scott, Mark Pellegrino, Aimee Graham, Brian Austin Green, Jennifer Darling, Fini Goodman, Brian Lally, Matt Casado, Dale Raoul, Susan Han
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year is 1988 and Ronnie (Adam Scott) is a young man living with his mother (Jennifer Darling) next to a home for the mentally disabled where he has a job as a care worker. Although his elderly mother lives in their house, Ronnie actually resides in the guest house in the back garden and is content to drift through life, listening to music on his headphones. However, this day his mother informs him that his brother Keith (Mark Pellegrino) is being released from prison on parole and Ronnie is not happy as he does not have a good relationship with him and is worried about Keith getting his hands on his late father's collection of rifles. But that will be the least of his worries, as he will soon find out...

Scripted by actor Matt Casado and Clayton Gardner, The Killer Next Door, originally named after its title character Ronnie (the new name is misleading), has the feel of an adaptation of a true story. It charts a series of events that escalate into "mayhem", as the pre-titles card puts it, and leaves a couple of the characters dead, but it's not really a thriller, and despite growing ever more farcical, not really a comedy either. What it is is convincingly acted, and with everyone in it behaving dubiously at some points during the story that's crucial to keep you watching and not rejecting it in frustration.

That, and you want to see how things will pan out. Ronnie is not exactly socially adept, and when he accidentally sees one of the patients at the home, a young woman named Sarah (Fini Goodman), naked, he begins to feel deeply inappropriate romantic inclinations towards her. He doesn't act on them until his mother is hospitalised after falling out of a moving taxi, and he has his home to himself, so when Sarah wanders off and Ronnie finds her in the middle of the street, instead of taking her back to the care facility he escorts her back to the guest house.

There, in a cringeful moment, he tentatively attempts advances on her, which are thankfully interrupted when Keith arrives earlier than expected with his girlfriend Kelly (Aimee Graham), wondering what's happened to his mother. Ronnie sends him to the hospital, (Scott is a picture of awkwardness, both intimidated by his brother and guilty about his new secret), and returns indoors to discover Sarah has dumped all her clothes in the toilet. One thing leads to another, and Ronnie ends up tying the unstable Sarah to the bed while he tries to dry her clothes. And now the police are looking for her.

So far, so uncomfortable, and it's this sense of semi-comical unease that is possibly the film's strongest suit. Keith invites a couple of friends over (one played by writer Casado) and they proceed to get very high on cocaine, but it's the gun collection that is on their minds. They are Keith's connection to his father and he doesn't want to let them go but you just know that they will be used for poorly thought out means sooner or later, and when one of the friends attempts to rape Kelly the tension is noticeably heightened after the plot has been simmering away. Unfortunately, the last fifteen minutes (and it's a fairly short film) verge on the unbelievable and may leave you thinking, "was that it?" Still, the actors carry it. Music by Karl Preusser.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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