Destroy All Neighbors Review: Gory, Gruesome, Gnarly Fun for the Whole Family

Situated somewhere between horror and comedy, splatter films have a long, not-quite-venerable, and definitely not illustrious history. Dependent on gruesome, gnarly practical effects, splatter films were traditionally made by and for a specific genre enthusiast: Those weak of stomach or mind need not apply. Most accounts trace the origins of the splatter sub-genre to Herschel Gordon Lewis’s seminal 1963 flick, Blood Feast, but it certainly didn’t end there, continuing with trend-setting and genre-redefining entries like George A. Romero’s Dead films, Sam Raimi’s original Evil Dead trilogy, Peter Jackson’s Braindead, Michele Soavi’s Dellamorte Dellamore, and Takashi Miike’s Ichi the Killer, among countless, often lesser, other movies.

For William “Willy” Brown (Jonah Ray Rodrigues), finding himself stuck in the middle of a splatter-filled film like Destroy All Neighbors just might be the last thought in his prog-rock-loving mind. William dreams being a music pro, but success means finishing the album he’s spent the better part of a decade working on. By day, he works as an engineer at a local music studio, Industrial Sound & Magic (insert George Lucas-related joke here), under the well-meaning, if arbitrary, management of Scotty (Thomas Lennon). By night, Willy noodles around on his instruments, recording bits and pieces of uninspired music on his PC, stitching them into a semi-coherent whole, and dreaming of a life far more fulfilling than his current one.

Luckily for Willy, he’s one-half of a non-power couple with an incredibly supportive girlfriend, Emily (Kiran Deol). What she sees in her boyfriend is anyone’s guess, but a combination of inertia and a real-world application of the “sunk cost” fallacy might provide the best, if not only, explanation for her actions. Willy and Emily nevertheless go about their days and nights with quiet desperation as the world outside their apartment door goes on without them.

That quiet desperation gives way almost immediately to loud desperation when Willy and Emily get a new neighbor, Vlad (Alex Winter, unrecognizable under several hundred pounds of latex). The figurative and possibly literal neighbor from hell plays pounding electronic music at eardrum-rupturing noise levels morning, noon, and night. He also yells inarticulately or grunts at random intervals, loud enough for both Willy and Emily to hear through the wall. Vlad’s constant breaking of the unspoken neighbor code leads an increasingly frazzled, sleep-deprived Willy to take immediate action: He pounds on the wall between their apartments.

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In turn, Willy’s modest act of defiance leads to a cascading series of unfortunate events, beginning with a face-to-face confrontation with his newfound nemesis. That altercation leads to his neighbor’s unplanned demise. Almost as quickly, Willy’s fragile psyche begins to erode and eventually splinter, which leads to Vlad’s resurrection as a jumbled mass of hyperactive, bloody body parts. And given that the film’s title isn’t singular, it’s only a matter of time before Willy’s inability to handle his status as an inadvertent murderer leads to more accidents for unsuspecting neighbors.

Bolstered by Bill Corso’s next-level practical effects (Vlad in particular), Rodrigues’s delightfully unhinged performance as the world’s unluckiest prog-rock musician, and a tonally perfect collaboration between director Josh Forbes and screenwriters Mike Benner, Jared Logan, and Charles A. Pieper, Destroy All Neighbors fully delivers on its premise. It mixes hilariously imaginative, practical effects-driven set pieces with bizarre, off-kilter humor and deeply committed, pitch-perfect performances from a game cast. The result comes across like a minor miracle, albeit a splatter-filled and gore-covered one.

Destroy All Neighbors is streaming on Shudder.



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