The Killers Next Door (2021)

Rating: C+

Dir: Michael A. LoCicero
Star: David Pridemore, Rosanna Jimenez, Michael A. LoCicero, Sean Carmichael

This is more or less a four-hander, with the title a succinct yet accurate description of the scenario. Married couple Sean (Carmichael) and Rosanna (Jimenez) are hoping for a quiet weekend getaway in the New Hampshire countryside, and have rented a cabin to that end. Unfortunately, the cabin beside theirs has been occupied illicitly by a pair of brothers – foster brothers, technically – who are not exactly the nicest pair of siblings. Bobby (Pridemore) and Ryan (LoCicero) are both ex-convicts, and the former in particular is a nasty piece of work. Already seeming creepy from the get-go, an incident at the local convenience store (top) establishes just how unpleasant Bobby can be, without much in the way of explicit violence.

It’s not long before that shows up though, after the real inhabitants of the brothers’ cabin arrive, and need to be disposed of. Sean met the pair in the store, just before the incident mentioned above, and Rosanna when they helped unstick her car from the mud. However, her intuition, quite correctly, tells her they are bad news and she’s less than impressed when Sean offers them a friendly beer. It all goes increasingly wrong from there, as the truth of the saying “Good fences make good neighbours,” is proved again. [A saying I heartily endorse. I’ve lived in Film Blitz Towers for 12 years, and still do not know the names of the people on either side of us]. Based on this movie, however, corkscrews may make better ones.

I think the start and the end of this are likely strongest. It does a good job with painting three of the characters: the exception is Sean, who may be the wussiest wuss in the history of wussdom. This is a man who won’t even ask his boss for a rise. How do you think he’ll cope with a pair of homicidal maniacs? Very badly, duh, and Chris was provoked into a running commentary of his failures. There were plenty for her to report, likely peaking with his cheerful admission to Bobby and Ryan that they can’t call the police because there’s no cellphone service. Rosanna does at least call him out on that particular piece of BS. Is rank stupidity grounds for divorce?

No doubt making him a giant man-baby is deliberate. Doesn’t make it any more tolerable, and excising Sean entirely might have made for a better film. Beyond that, it does feel as if this loses steam in the middle. The tag-team confrontation is set up, then the film goes into a holding pattern for twenty minutes, just when I felt it needed to keep ramping up the intensity. It does get there eventually, and even Chris found the payoff of the final shot grimly satisfactory. For a micro-budget film – catering by the director’s uncle and mom! – this also looks and sounds decent, never seeming obviously cheap, and operating within its limitations well. As LoCicero’s feature debut, there’s definite promise.