In a quiet suburban town in the summer of 1958, two recently orphaned sisters are placed in the care of their mentally unstable Aunt Ruth (Emmy winner Blanche Baker of HOLOCAUST). But Ruth's depraved sense of discipline will soon lead to unspeakable acts of abuse and torture that involve her young sons, the neighborhood children, and one 12-year-old boy whose life will be changed forever. William Atherton (DIE HARD), Catherine Mary Stewart (NIGHT OF THE COMET) and Grant Show (MELROSE PLACE) co-star in this devastating drama adapted from the controversial best seller by Jack Ketchum that Rue Morgue Magazine called "one of te most disturbing reads in the history of horror literature."
While I was reading Jack Ketchum's THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, I was informed that their was a movie adaptation of the book just coming out on DVD. I was doubtful that the movie would be very good just because I usually hate move adaptions of books (with the exception of BIG FISH where the movie is sooooooo much better than the book!!!). After watching THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, I have to say, I was impressed. When it first started I was recognizing the dialogue straight from the book and was happy that it seemed the movie was going to follow along with the book well. When Meg first came on the screen, however, her voice just really grated on me for some reason. It just didn't seem like what I was expecting of her. Of course, this isn't too big a deal considering the majority of the movie she is gagged and can't be heard speaking anyway so it didn't really take away from the movie. My next complaint was how choppy the movie seemed. It was following along with the book quite well, but the scenes just didn't seem to transition. It was like they just jumped from one thing to the next with no tie-ins. There were also many scenes cut out, though not anything majorly important from what I recall, but that's to be expected in order to cut the story short enough to squeeze into the movie. The latter part of the movie, when the torture scenes took over, seemed to flow a lot smoother and the scenes blended together well. My one big complaint about the movie was the ending. I was very disappointed that they didn't follow closer to the book. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but the chain of events here did not flow the same as the book and the "final battle" seemed to be cut way too short. Also, when the story goes back to the adult version of David I was unhappy that they had cut out the part about what his mom had written on a newspaper article... and even the newspaper article for that matter. That scene seemed very powerful to me when I read it and even gave me the chills. With the movie being only 90 minutes long, I just think they could've taken the time with the ending to follow closer to the novel.
I don't watch the "extras" on DVDs all that often, but I was curious about the making of this movie so I watched the 20 or so minute segment in order to learn more about how things were done and hope that maybe it explained some of their reasonings on why they did some of the things I have complained about above, but instead it just made me realize something else that I think should've been done differently... for at least part of the movie anyway. The actress who played Aunt Ruth said that her and the director had the same idea about how Ruth should be played. They thought her character should be stern and talk normally rather than sounding like a lunatic, but in the book as things progressed, Ketchum described her character as having started to go crazy and such... I thought that should have been depicted in the movie myself. *shrugs*
Anyway, overall I thought this movie was done very well. My complaints above are more because I had just recently read the book and am picking it apart quite a bit, plus I'm very biased and prefer books over movies. I definitely recommend this movie to anyone that isn't feint of heart because it is a great story (as well as inspired by a true story), however, I also recommend that the book should be read first as to not spoil the wonderful book Ketchum has created. As my profile on here says...