Film / The Girl Next Door (2007)

The Girl Next Door (also known as Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door) is a 2007 American horror film adaptation of Jack Ketchum's 1989 novel of the same name. The film is loosely based on true events surrounding the torture and murder of Sylvia Likens by Gertrude Baniszewski during the summer of 1965.

The movie starts as a man in the present day remembering the summer of 1958, when he befriends two adolescent sisters, Meg and Susan, whose parents die in a car crash and are forced to live with their Aunt Ruth. She seems like a cool aunt, who lets kids in the neighborhood come over to smoke and drink beer. But Aunt Ruth is actually a sadistic psychopath who uses the most grotesque means of abuse and torture towards her helpless nieces as young David, the boy next door, witnesses the nightmare.

The film has received somewhat positive feedback while most people see this as one of the most disturbing movies ever made because of its content.

This film provides examples of:

  • Adorkable: David and Meg. Especially when they're together, making the tragedy all the more depressing.
  • Adults Are Useless: David can't bring himself to inform his parents about Meg and Susan's predicament. Even the police are no help until the end.
  • And I Must Scream: Meg in the second half when she's kept in the basement with a gag.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Aunt Ruth. Despite her maliciousness, she can talk softly to her nieces, while still abusing them, as well as put on a false show of kindness towards Officer Jennings.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Big Bad is dead and her kids are arrested. Yet, after God knows how many days of being tortured and beaten, Meg succumbs to her wounds and dies in front of Susan and David. And Susan is rescued, nevertheless
  • Break the Cutie: Meg and Susan. David, too in the present day.
  • Bystander Syndrome: The whole neighborhood knew what was going on with the girls and still did nothing. Truth in Television, unfortunately.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Susan's crutches.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Very literal in the second half.
  • The Dragon: Willie to his mother, Aunt Ruth.
  • Disabled Means Helpless: Susan isn't able to walk on her own, which is why she is unable to help Meg during her abuse.
  • Domestic Abuser: Does it really need saying who?
  • Establishing Character Moment: In the film's prologue, before David recounts his story, he out of all the bystanders saved a homeless man who was hit by a passing car. It shows his compassionate nature, which was founded in his youth when he refused to join in on Ruth's 'games'.
  • Evil Gloating: "If I see any slutting going on around here, your ass is grass and Auntie Ruth's the lawnmower."
  • Evil Matriarch: Ruth is a particularly nightmarish example. She tortures her nieces in increasingly cruel ways and her sons take orders from her. She is also quite happy to get other kids to join in on Meg's torture. And she gives them cigarettes and alcohol.
  • Flashback: The entire story is being remembered from present-day David to 1958.
  • From Bad to Worse: Meg and Susan are abused at home even at the start of the movie and it's AAAAALLLLLLLLL downhill from there. This even applies in the second half. The start of the second half is nothing compared to the last third. Yeesh...
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Most of the tortures are left to the viewer's imagination. Not that that makes it any better.
  • Jerkass: There's a cluster of them in this case. Aunt Ruth and her kids (Willie, Donnie and Ralphie). Other neighborhood kids apply here too, especially Willie's friend, Eddie.
  • He Knows Too Much: Aunt Ruth towards David when he finally decides to tell someone about the abuse.
  • Hypocrite: Aunt Ruth denies Donnie to "fuck" Meg because Willie just raped her and considers it incest. Later on, it is revealed that Aunt Ruth has molested Susan (to where she made her bleed.
  • I Want My Mommy!: Susan's literal words after Willie rapes Meg in front of her.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: Subverted. Aunt Ruth beats Susan just because she was unable to stop Meg from hitting Ralphie, who was inappropriately touching Meg.
    • Also later on, Aunt Ruth decides to punish Susan whenever Meg "disobeys".
  • Kick the Dog: Susan and especially Meg. Turned up to eleven in the second half
  • Kids Are Cruel: Aunt Ruth's kids since she eggs them on that it's okay to beat up Meg and Susan. Bonus points for six year old Ralphie.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: David kills Aunt Ruth by bashing her head with Susan's crutches.
  • Life Isn't Fair: Aunt Ruth's justification of beating Susan, feeling that she should pay for her sister's "misbehaving".
  • Naughty Bird Watching: Eddie and Willie try to catch Meg naked by watching her through a window. They only catch glimpses of her.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Aunt Ruth makes a remark that the carnival was more exciting in her time when she was younger.
  • Police Are Useless: Quite so. Meg even reports to Officer Jennings after a domestic incident, yet nothing is done about it. Until the end where, Jennings, upon finding a dead Ruth and David telling him about what she did to Meg, decides not to arrest him and rule Ruth's death an accident, while gathering Susan in his arms and removing her from the
  • Punny Name: Aunt Ruth-less.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: It's so disturbing when Aunt Ruth watches her oldest son, Willie raping a beaten to a pulp Meg, ever so calmly while smoking a cigarette.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Aunt Ruth really delivers these.
  • Sadist: Ruth, just Ruth. There's no quite clear reason why she puts all those stuff on both Meg and Susan, except in order amuse herself. She also likes smoking cigarettes as she watches her sons torturing and/or raping Meg.
  • Shameful Strip: Aunt Ruth and her three sons play a game with Meg, who's tied up, called "Confess". Meg has to confess how she "plays with herself". After she refuses, the three boys strip her naked.
  • Slut-Shaming: Aunt Ruth burns the words I FUCK. FUCK ME. onto Meg's stomach.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Aunt Ruth is dead and her kids are arrested. It is, however, unclear if the neighborhood kids were caught though.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Aunt Ruth isn't afraid to beat eleven year old handicapped Susan.