Movie Review: Even Swedes fret over their neighbors — “The Evil Next Door”

That first encounter with your new neighbors, after you’ve bought that new-to-you house, is always a little fraught. Especially when this is their introductory line.

“You know what happened there, right?”

No. And where were you BEFORE we made our offer?

“The Evil Next Door” is a perfectly conventional, somewhat serviceable Swedish horror tale in the haunted house genre, the “something is after our kid” subgenre and the characters-yanked-out-of-the-frame, monster-skitters-around-upside-down school of effects.

It finishes with a nice flourish even if everything that comes before is “seen it before” overfamiliar.

A new family moves into a new house in the suburbs. Shirin (Dilan Gwyn, a dead ringer for Imogen Poots) is newest of all. She’s the new woman in Fredrik’s (Linas Wahlgren) life, and new to motherhood. As they’re picking out this new place, little Lucas (Eddie Eriksson Dominguez) puts two-and-two together and wants to know if she’s to be his “new mommy.”

Shirin hems and haws something like a “yes.” But she has no answer to the five-year-old’s followup.

“Does that mean you’re going to die, too?” Photos of him with his bald mother tell us that story.

The new place is a duplex with an empty half next door. And right from the start, Lucas picks up on something. Doors open by themselves when he’s the only one around. Whispers come from the walls.

As a prologue has shown us a previous “event” in this “inspired by true events” tale, we know what’s coming. Sadly, that goes for pretty much everything about “The Evil Next Door.”

The mechanics of such movies demand that A) Fredrik be out of town working, on weekends, leaving “mother” and child alone, that B) Shirin get hints that something is going on with the kid, who’s bragging about his “new friend” at pre-school, who is talking…to SOMEone, when he doesn’t think she is listening.

Thus, Fredrik doesn’t take Shirin seriously when she raises mild alarm, — “Something is seriously F—ed up around here!” And he and starts to blame her for the fact that his little boy is getting traumatized and physically hurt when Dad isn’t around.

Predictable as it is, the effects and co-writers/directors Tord Danielsson and Oskar Mellander serve up and how they serve them deliver some decent hair-raising moments. It’s just that the movie leading up to them is so generic as to defy accusations of plagiarism.

So many B-movies have used this very plot that “The Evil Next Door” is pretty much in the horror movie public domain the moment it opens.

.MPA Rating: unrated, violence, horrific images, profanity

Cast: Dilan Gwyn, Eddie Eriksson Dominguez and Linus Wahlgren.

Credits: Scripted and directed by Tord Danielsson, Oskar Mellander. A Magnet/Magnolia release.

Running time: 1:28

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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