Claiming to be “inspired by true events,” Allison Snyder’s Howdy, Neighbor! has its finger on the pulse of modern horror. Penned by Matthew Scott Montgomery (who also stars as the lead), Howdy, Neighbor! is the latest in a long line of obsessive-fan movies. In this iteration, a retired child actor finds himself at the mercy of a crazed stalker who will stop at nothing to get his attention. Not everything here works, but a properly creepy masked maniac and a series of unnerving FaceTime and Zoom calls ensure Howdy, Neighbor! takes a place in the annals of horror history.
Montgomery fills the shoes of actor Benjamin Caldwell, who played buck-toothed Bucky in three-season television hit, Howdy, Neighbor! With an upcoming cast reunion taking place over Zoom and the classic show’s debut to streaming, Ben has once again been thrust into the spotlight. He spends most of his nights either video chatting with bestie Harley (Debby Ryan, Insatiable, Every Day), or trying to navigated the complicated dating waters of queer life in L.A. Ben’s acting days are long behind him, yet he still happily rides the coattails of previous successes.
A weird new dude moves into Ben’s apartment building. Chase (Grant Jordan) says he relocated out here to “be a star,” but it mostly just comes across as icky when he gushes at Ben to an embarrassing level over his Howdy, Neighbor! obsession. At first, it is almost flattering for Ben to finally come across a fan in the wild after all this time; but things start getting unnerving a little too quickly for comfort. Very late night texts roll through incessantly. Chase belligerently bothers Ben during live streams trying to get his attention. Late at night, weird noises fill the halls of Ben’s cozy apartment building. Chase wanders the halls in his tighty-whities.
Following the narrative strictly by way of Ben’s technology is a fun and creative way to experience an admittedly straightforward story. Never does Howdy, Neighbor! explore uncharted territory, nor does it delve deep into the dark and destructive waters one might expect from a movie in the genre. Fatal Attraction or Misery this is not. Yet, as a vehicle for Matthew Scott Montgomery and supporting players Debby Ryan and Ben’s hunky ex-boyfriend, Marcus (Sterling Sulieman, Pretty Little Liars, I Know What You Did Last Summer), one could do much worse. Howdy, Neighbor! entertains with a zippy story and eerie visuals—just enough to satiate the less-demanding horror fanatics.
Say Howdy, Neighbor! to this unique movie, which screened at 2023’s Screamfest Horror Film Festival.