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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Josh Goodman's "Fear Thy Neighbor" A Well Executed And Brilliantly Acted Thriller

"FEAR THY NEIGHBOR" (2015)
Genre: Thriller
Length- 14:59
Company:  Goody Bag Productions / Quixotica Films

A young female stalker (Kisanti Hathor) staying at a hotel becomes obsessed with her handsome neighbor (Evan Judson) when she discovers his dark side.

What could have been a chance encounter becomes a game of cat and mouse, and rather than revulsion, she feels attraction -- an attraction that only becomes more intense as the stakes climb higher.

WHAT LURKS NEXT DOOR

"Fear Thy Neighbor" is a short thriller shot in 2015 with writer/director Josh Goodman at the helm.  Christopher Morgan takes on the role of cinematographer, and between the two of them they make this film look brilliant.  Between the color scheme and the interesting shots of what could have been boring locations -- hotel rooms and a parking garage -- "Fear Thy Neighbor" turns into a visual treat on par with films whose budgets are far higher.

The story unfolds quickly, but not so fast that it prevents suspense.  I can't reveal much without
exposing spoilers, but I will say that this script tells you exactly what you need exactly when you need to know it, and no more.

What makes things even better is the fact that Goodman's script plays his cards so close to his chest that I was kept guessing as to the nature of our protagonist stalker and the object of her affection throughout, and it was only the last minute or so when it all clicked into place.

There's not a lot of films that I see where I can honestly say I don't know where one is going, and then ultimately find myself, at the end, in genuinely new territory.

THE TROUBLE WITH THRILLS

The main trouble with this kind of a film is that we've seen the basic storyline done a million times before.  Goodman and company combat this by putting a novel twist on the proceedings, but in order to appreciate that twist, you have to go with the story and trust in the filmmakers that they are not going to dump their audience off in cliched territory.

In the case of "Fear Thy Neighbor", I highly recommend you give it not only a chance, but your full attention.  You will find a lot to like!

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 4 / 5.  Goodman's script kept me guessing, conveyed an interesting story and allowed for some pretty intense sequences.  Its twists and turns took what could have been a boring by-the-numbers thriller and created something genuinely special with it.   On the downside, a couple things I didn't quite pick up on -- who was the girl the stalker saw over the neighbor's shoulder?  Was she the one who she later saw in the bathroom?  I didn't quite put two and two together there.
Directing: 4 / 5.  The visuals are attractive and contribute to the mood of each and every scene.  The bits with the body in the trunk of the car felt a little too obvious for my liking, but I particularly REALLY liked the final confrontation between the stalker and the neighbor -- talk about a chilling scene, made all the more so by PERFECT camera placement.
Editing: 4.5 / 5.  The color palette was beautiful and the film was cut together in a very professional manner.  The whole film's production looked great.  That being said, the credits at the end whiz by so fast I had to use my pause button to figure out who should get credit for what, and that's just not fair because everyone associated with this production deserves a nod.
Sound/Music: 4 / 5.  Effective soundtrack from a variety of sources, but the main composer is Travis "Creole Kid" Pierre.  The sound design on the whole is on par with any professionally shot flick, and the credit for that goes to Forever Damor.
Acting: 4 .5 / 5.  Incredible acting from the main leads -- THIS IS HOW IT IS DONE, for those who are curious.  I have to give a serious shout out in particular to Hathor.  She's not only gorgeous, folks -- check on her in ten years and I guarantee she'll be starring in big productions because she's just THAT talented.  The closing shots of her with Judson are just breathtaking.  And speaking of Judson -- he's already seen some action in big time TV courtesy of "Burn Notice", and deservedly so.  I look forward to seeing more of both of these top notch thespians in future projects -- hopefully soon, soon, SOON!  The supporting cast do what they have to do, and none are distractingly bad, but thankfully they only have a handful of lines to distract us from the main attraction, which is unquestionably Hathor and Judson.

Final Grade: 4.2 / 5.  

Don't forget to check out the trailer for "Fear Thy Neighbor", follow the film on Facebook and Twitter and watch the full film on YouTube right here!

For more coverage of "Fear Thy Neighbor", check out our exclusive interviews with writer/director Josh Goodman here, and actress Valentina Isis (Kisanti Hathor) here!

"Fear Thy Neighbor" is officially an HONORABLE MENTION of FOREST CITY SHORT FILM REVIEW'S MUST SEE SHORT FILMS of 2015!  Check it out right here!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!