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The Dreadful Ten: 10 Horror Films Featuring Creepy Neighbors!

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Just this past week I overheard a young guy venting (loudly) about how strange it is to live in an apartment building. The strangeness, he said, comes from living right next to people that he doesn’t know in the slightest. We’re all so used to having neighbors that we don’t stop to wonder about these mysterious humans that are practically living on top of us. After all, many of us sleep with one flimsy wall separating us from the bedrooms of our neighbors.

Our neighbors are in such close proximity to us, but we don’t know anything about them. They’re probably decent, somewhat normal people. But there’s also the chance that they’re not. We have no way of knowing. And that small probability that they’re dangerous casts an uncomfortable new light on any living situation. The idea of harmful neighbors is a nastily believable one; it’s not the myth of Sasquatch. And In case your imagination isn’t running in a horrifying enough direction on its own by now, here are ten horror films that will lay out unnerving neighbor scenarios for you…

 

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10. LAKEVIEW TERRACE (2008)

In LAKEVIEW TERRACE, newlyweds Chris and Lisa Mattson, played by Kerry Washington and Patrick Wilson, find themselves living next door to a cop. The couple’s imposing neighbor, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is not happy to see an interracial couple living next door to him. We quickly see that he is not shy about making his feelings known. The film is filled with wicked fun, as Jackson’s character always has a new method for harassing the couple up his sleeve. Literally the neighbor from hell, he succeeds in disrupting the couple’s lives on a daily basis. As Jackson’s passive aggressive schemes shift from annoying to shocking, it’s frightening to see how powerless the Mattsons are. They can’t get legal help, because the law is living right next door to them, attacking their lives from every angle that he can.

 

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9. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012)

This chapter of the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise finds itself with talented Kathryn Newton as its lead, in the role of teenage Alex. After an accident happens at a neighbor’s home, Alex and her family take in their neighbor’s strange child, Robbie. Deadpan, unemotional Robbie himself is creepy, but the unnatural things that enter into the house with him are much worse. The film produces some enjoyably startling scenes and creates an atmosphere filled with unease. This writer also felt this installment offered some of the most frightening paranormal imagery within the entire franchise.

 

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8. THE STEPFORD WIVES (2004)

Although this remake received atrocious reviews, this writer thoroughly enjoyed it. Nicole Kidman’s character was almost too much fun to follow around. And while the film didn’t offer much in the way of traditional scares, the theme and atmosphere were both genuinely spooky. The concept of dehumanization, explored through the literal metaphor of changing people into robots, is what was most disturbing about the film. Whether you look at it from a human rights perspective or a horror perspective, operating on a person to change them into a thing is a cringeworthy plot line. Building on that unease is the entire town and its inhabitants, oozing with a sense that something is horribly wrong in the picturesque suburb.

 

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7. FRIGHT NIGHT (2011)

Imogen Poots and Colin Ferrell star in this stylishly creepy remake of Tom Holland’s 1985 story of a vampire who moves into a suburban neighborhood. Ferrell delivers a wickedly entertaining performance as Jerry, the smug and merciless bloodsucker who begins to kill off an alarming amount of locals. Clever comedy is mixed in with the fear factor, creating an enjoyably fast passed story of evil making its nest in suburbia.

 

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6. DISTURBIA (2007)

High school senior Kale, played by Shia Labeouf, just can’t seem to stay out of legal trouble. When he finds himself on house arrest, he takes up the hobby of spying on his neighbors. It’s all fun and games until he realizes that Mr. Turner, the man who lives across the street, matches the description of uncaught serial killer. Soon Mr. Turner realizes he is being watched, and, to Kale’s horror, retaliates by romantically courting Kale’s mom. The acting in this movie is excellent, with Labeouf’s skill for comedy carving out breathing room within the film’s progressive tension. As Mr. Turner, David Morse feels both lethal and malicious. He’s sure to rattle any calm that you begin the movie with, penetrating and terrorizing Kale’s household. Even if you had to live next to a serial killer, Mr. Turner would still be an unfortunate person for you to be stuck in a neighborhood with.

 

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5. THE ‘BURBS (1989)

Tom Hanks stars as Ray Peterson in this off kilter horror comedy that is the touchstone of all creepy neighbor movies. When bizarre new neighbors move in, Ray’s smooth suburbia existence is rattled. Agitated by the strange behavior of these newcomers, Ray begins to obsessively investigate what he’s convinced is a sinister group of cult members.

 

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4. ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968)

Elderly Roman and Minnie Castevet are neighbors with a very dark agenda. That doesn’t stop Rosemary (Mia Farrow) from falling prey to their charm, and unknowingly letting insidious forces into her life. Her friendship with the Casevet’s brings such unnatural occurrences into Rosemary’s life that she begins to doubt her own sanity. The film uses subtleties to build an atmosphere of tension and paranoia. No overdone or obvious scares are needed because of how disturbing the mental journey of Rosemary proves to be.

 

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3. WHAT LIES BENEATH (2000)

The incredibly unnerving atmosphere combined with Michelle Pfeiffers incredible acting makes WHAT LIES BENEATH one of my favorite ghost films. The threatening supernatural presence that lurks in the house when Pfeiffer’s character, Claire, is alone, definitely sends the skin crawling. The plot follows Claire as she happens to see her next door neighbor, Warren, dragging what seems to be a body across his yard. Claire quickly begins to suspect that Warren has killed his wife and that it is her ghost who is haunting Claire’s own home.

 

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2. THE PURGE (2013)

It’s hard not to admire THE PURGE for its sheer brutality. This nightmarish vision of the United States’ future depicts Purge night, a period of twelve hours where all crime is legal. The scenes of begrudged Americans maniacally slaughtering each other are rich in gore, while the savagery of it all is presented in a sophisticatedly eery way. The jolting violence uses its impact to deliver messages on classicism and racism. In that way THE PURGE creates something spectacular, demonstrating how the affect of horror can be harnessed to emphasize social issues. The acting is also excellent, with Lena Headey and Ethan Hawke playing wealthy suburbanites whose home is under siege by sadistic college students. The eagerness of the masked, blood drunk students is hair raising, just like the rest of this crazed, crimson soaked thrill ride.

 

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1. STRAW DOGS (2011)

Another remake to grace this list, STRAW DOGS has an amplified, electrical current of fear running through each scene. Throughout the film, there isn’t a moment where we’re allowed to feel relaxed or at ease. This intensity of the film, as we follow Amy and Chris Sumner’s move back to Amy’s Southern hometown, aggressively holds our attention. Amy, played by Kate Bosworth, is intuitive enough to be distrustful of ex-boyfriend Charlie, played by Alexander Skarsgard. Chris has no such sense. Unwise, as Charlie and his crew begin to launch a series of predatory attacks on the young married couple. The psychological darkness of the film hits hard, taking a nakedly truthful look at violence verses passivity. The acting feels real, lending a rawness to the resentment, jealousy and terror that the characters portray. But what makes it a must see for horror fans is the scene which puts a bear trap to shockingly innovative use.

 

Honorable Mentions:
THE WICKER MAN (1973)
SINGLE WHITE FEMALE (1992)
THE INVASION (2007)
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008)
PET SEMATARY (1989)

About the author
Lexi Harrington
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