We’ve all had bad neighbors, right? You know, stealing your paper, being way too loud, coming back to life after you kill them… Ok, so maybe that last part is unique to Shudder’s new horror film Destroy All Neighbors.
Director Josh Forbes tells the story of a struggling musician, William Brown (Jonah Ray) whose only goal in life is to finish his prog, prog-rock (prog squared according to him) album. Things go from bad to worse to nightmarish when William gets a new neighbor, a Muppet of a man named Vlad (the most excellent Alex Winter) who checks just about every single box on the bad neighbor checklist. Fed up with life, but mostly with Vlad, William goes to confront Vlad and accidentally kills him. Except he doesn’t, Vlad, now undead, continues to wreak havoc in Williams life leading him on a hellfest fever dream of a journey.
Just, off the top, let me say WOW, what fun! They really just don’t make them like this anymore. The film’s ultra-liberal use of practical effects, from blood packs to full on puppetry transports you to another time. Honestly, it’s the weirdest thing, an easy argument could be made that CGI just looks more realistic but somehow our brains can separate what was on set and what wasn’t. So while a CGI talking charred skeleton would look 100% accurate, a puppet version like what we get in Destroy All Neighbors feels more right. I guess that’s the difference, it’s what’s real vs what’s right. I seriously applaud Josh Forbes for diving in head first and fully committing to what ends up a faithful homage to splatter-core films of the 80s. Early Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi would be proud.
I suppose I should mention that there were live people involved in the making of this film. More then 2 of them even! Names like Thomas Lennon, Jon Daly, and Kumail Nanjiani pop up in cameos throughout but this film belongs to Alex Winter and Jonah Ray. Jonah’s William Brown is such a fed-up loser you can literally start to feel angry by proxy. The beauty of it is that he doesn’t approach it in the obvious, “I’m so mad I can’t take it anymore” route but rather the far more reserved “I’ve already given up” route, which makes everything happening in the second and third acts all the more insane. Then there’s our antagonist, Vlad, played wonderfully by Alex Winter (Winter Also plays a second, uncredited role). Padded in enough makeup and prosthetic that you wouldn’t know it was him unless I told you, Winter turns it to 11 in the role making Vlad this ultimate chaotic force. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “You can tell they were having fun making this”, you are looking at a prime example.
And when you’re done watching the movie on Shudder, make sure to check out our interview with director Josh Forbes, as well as stars Jonah Ray and Alex Winter!