- Next Door (2005) movie review: Pål Sletaune’s eerily erotic Norwegian thriller delves into psychological and sexual realms where Vertigo, Psycho, and Frenzy director Alfred Hitchcock might have ventured had he been around in the early 21st century.
- As the disoriented male lead, unsure of both his surroundings and his sanity, Kristoffer Joner delivers an enthralling performance. Co-stars Cecilie A. Mosli and Julia Schacht offer memorable support.
Next Door movie review: Pål Sletaune ventures into sinister psychological realms where Hitchcock never dared to tread
In the Kafkaesque horror thriller Next Door / Naboer, screenwriter-director Pål Sletaune’s ventures into psychological and sexual territory where Alfred Hitchcock – in spite of efforts like Spellbound, Vertigo, Psycho, Marnie, and Frenzy – never dared to tread.
Following a nasty confrontation with his former girlfriend, Ingrid (Anna Bache-Wiig), a disturbed man, John (Kristoffer Joner), becomes acquainted with his two attractive but knocked about – both literally and figuratively – neighbors, the sisters Anne (Cecilie A. Mosli) and Kim (Julia Schacht).
What follows in the sisters’ dark, claustrophobic apartment is a mix of kinky sex, graphic violence, and uncanny mind games.
Kinky sex & mind games
Really, are the thin walls separating the two dwellings the actual reason for the women’s extensive knowledge of John’s life?
And can John’s own perceptions and memories be trusted?
Whether or not one can predict where Staune’s narrative is headed, his solid grip on the unsettling proceedings – underlined by Simon Boswell’s first-rate, Psycho-inspired score and cinematographer John Andreas Andersen’s washed-out hues – should keep freaked-out viewers’ interest.
As a plus, Next Door boasts a trio of first-rate performances.
Cecilie A. Mosli and Julia Schacht are convincingly sexy/creepy as the two peculiar siblings, while [eventual Best Actor Amanda Award (Norwegian Oscar) winner] Kristoffer Joner is a sensational antihero as the off-kilter neighbor; like Anthony Perkins in Psycho or Peter Lorre in M, John is at turns sinister and pitiable, at times both. In point of fact, Joner delivers what’s easily one of the best characterizations of the year.
In all, Next Door may not be a cinematic masterpiece, but it is the sort of movie that the aforementioned Hitchcock might have come up with – with the probable addition of a director’s cameo and darkly humorous touches – had he been at work in the early 21st century.
Next Door / Naboer (2005)
Direction & Screenplay: Pål Sletaune.
Cast: Kristoffer Joner. Cecilie A. Mosli. Julia Schacht. Anna Bache-Wiig. Michael Nyqvist.
“Next Door” endnotes
Kristoffer Joner and Julia Schacht Next Door movie image: 4 1/2 Film.
“Next Door: Psychosexual Territory Where Hitchcock Never Dared to Tread” last updated in September 2021.