Anyone who has ever lived in a low budget apartment situation has definitely had at least a fleeting thought of killing a neighbor or two but thankfully most of us just leave it at a fist banging on the joining wall or a broom handle to the ceiling to let the offending residents know they’ve crossed a line. Unfortunately for William Brown (Jonah Ray Rodrigues-‘Christmas Bloody Christmas’, ‘Satanic Hispanics’) his disruptive neighbor will require a bit of a heavier hand. ‘Destroy All Neighbors’ quickly gets out of control as body parts and gore stack up, in a fun way!
We first meet William as he is trying to work through a creative roadblock to get his prog-rock magnum opus out into the world. Living with his girlfriend Emily (Kiran Deol) in a chaotic apartment building filled with characters, William finds it even more difficult to focus when a new neighbor moves in next door. Vlad (Alex Winter) plays loud music, while watching porn at top volume and lifting weights at all hours of the day and night. While attempting to confront Vlad about his disturbance William accidentally decapitates him…and from there shit gets wild.
What follows plays out almost like a blood-soaked take on A Christmas Carol where William is accidentally creating his own guiding spirits as things spiral further out of control. Not quite a tale about generosity and the spirit of giving, ‘Destroy All Neighbors’, at its heart, is a story about how difficult it can be to be a creative person. Putting your art out into the world is never easy, especially if it is something as gleefully sneered upon as prog-rock…or a horror movie, but keeping it inside can be infinitely more difficult. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a film built on heartfelt learning moments, but this is the basis of the story upon which gallons of blood are dumped. While the story meanders about in ways that often don’t make a lot of sense, it’s the practical effects and make up artistry that truly stand out here. Alex Winter as Vlad is unrecognizable under the prosthetics and the choice to have entrails take up instruments to help finish the album is delightfully gruesome. Each casualty and reanimation is more ridiculous than the last. If you take your horror as seriously as a musically complicated prog-rock oeuvre, this film won’t be for you.
Director Josh Forbes takes the screenplay written by Jared Logan and Charles A. Pieper on a madcap journey that keeps a breakneck pace. Coming in at just 85 minutes long there’s not a lot of room to build character depth, but it is also not difficult to understand these rather uncomplicated personalities. Speaking of personalities, comedy fans will likely appreciate cameos by Kumail Nanjiani and Thomas Lennon who play perfectly with the always reliably funny Rodrigues. William isn’t a particularly likable main character, but we are coming to him at his lowest point as he loses his job as a studio engineer and then also loses his girlfriend as he descends into dark odyssey. His decisions often don’t make sense, which lands film this directly into the horror trope category of protagonists who do all the wrong things. Still, he does the wrong things, so very wrong that I couldn’t help but enjoy the truly deranged outcome.
‘Destroy All Neighbors‘ streams exclusively on Shudder starting January 12th, 2024.
‘Destroy All Neighbors’ Is Delightfully Gruesome and Deranged