With continuing reports of housing foreclosures and the mounting alternative of renting apartments instead, there may be a new sort of domestic violence on the rise. And that could be tenant on tenant violence. At least according to the ironically titled occupant from hell thriller, Good Neighbors.
A mix of bilingual and also very likely bipolar tendencies, Good Neighbors unfolds in a frayed Quebec apartment building, presided over by busybody charismatic concierge, Madame Gauthier (Micheline Lanctot). But perhaps not quite nosy enough, Madame Gauthier is unaware of a host of thirtysomething potential maniacs who may or may not be residing in her building. Including a sarcastic cat lover, suspect cat murderer, and a paraplegic pet fish fanatic into mystery moonlighting (Scott Speedman). All of which adds up to some awfully fish-y proceedings.
Unknowingly entering into this possibly demented dive is lonely, socially clumsy geek, Victor (Jay Baruchel). An elementary school teacher recently returned from China, Victor is in possession of a rare feline pedigree he’s imported back with him. An unfortunate circumstance which may have placed him directly in the crosshairs of his downstairs infatuation Louise (Emily Hampshire), a waitress apparently afflicted with an obsession around cats to die for. And while all of these tense situations escalate concurrently, with the approaching 1995 heated referendum seeking French dominated Quebec’s secession from Canada.
But all of the above, however bizarre when not surreal, is initially upstaged by a reported serial rapist/killer on the loose. And though we are led to decipher early on just who that least likely suspect is, it barely matters. Because nearly everyone in this multiple whodunit – or would like to do it – is really unhinged, with scary, unraveling distinct dark sides.
Written and directed by actor turned filmmaker Jacob Tierney (Twist, The Trotsky) and adapted from the popular novel by Chrystine Brouillet, Good Neighbors may not venture far beyond the taunting suspense to delve into disturbing emotional origins driving this psychological north of the border noir thriller. But the relentlessly chilling mood and atmosphere are just right. And guaranteeing if nothing else, that by the end of this muted grisly yarn, there’s likely to be lots of available empty apartments for rent in its wake.
2 1/2 stars