Hit and run plus obsessive new neighbor equals… what exactly? Writer/director Stephan Rick and co-writer Ross Patridge seem to posit the answer with The Good Neighbor, a throwback-style thriller that has trouble keeping up with the best of the genre, or even justifying its existence much whatsoever. A remake of 2011 German thriller Unter Nachbarn, this project does at least carry over Rick behind the camera. The film serves as an entertaining-enough way to pass an hour and a half, yet with two leads that have been great in other movies, I expected better.
David (Luke Kleintank, Midway, The Goldfinch) has relocated for a 3-week intensive course with a local newspaper, and holds accolades as a former New York Times journalist. As he adjusts to his new locale, he makes a friend in neighbor Robert (Jonathan Rhys Myers, The Tudors, Velvet Goldmine) after his car breaks down in need of gas. The duo go on a joy ride together, and a friendship is born. As they begin to hang out excessively, including fishing and drinks, David starts opening up to Robert. At a club, David meets a beautiful cyclist named Jeanine (Ieva Florence). They share an instant connection, and he halfway ditches Robert to flirt with her.
A heavy night of drinking is not a good mix with the lengthy drive back home. Robert and David leave via a backroad to avoid the highway. Sadly, they hit Jeanine and leave her for dead in a horrifying hit-and-run. The case instantly makes the news, and becomes a target for the local detectives trying to solve the case. To make matters worse, David is assigned to write about the murder at work. He befriends Jeanine’s sister, Vanessa (Eloise Smith), who herself is desperate for answers about her sister. Meanwhile, Robert forges forward with his own agenda. He will stop at nothing to make sure no one discovers the truth about Jeanine’s death—no matter who he has to kill to keep the secrets intact.
The Good Neighbor lacks the ferocious thrills and exaggerated characterizations that crazy-new-bestie movies like this need so badly. 1992’s The Hand The Rocks the Cradle or even Poison Ivy simply would not work without amazing turns from Rebecca De Mornay and Drew Barrymore respectively. I am sorry to say that as much as I love Jonathan Rhys Meyers, he simply cannot hold a candle to either of those performances. Robert’s ridiculous motive is also laughable. Despite an R-rating, the violence feels sanitized and the rougher edges sanded down. Without a grimy hook or original angle, The Good Neighbor winds up feeling like a tired retread into familiar territory.
The Good Neighbor moves in next door when it comes to VOD and Digital on Friday, June 17th.