Comments Off on Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door

Based on the Jack Ketchum novel of the same name, The Girl Next Door follows the unspeakable torture and abuses committed on a teenage girl in the care of her aunt…and the boys who witness and fail to report the crime.

Director: Gregory Wilson
Writers: Daniel Farrands (screenplay), Philip Nutman (screenplay)
Stars: William Atherton, Blythe Auffarth and Blanche Baker
Country: USA
Also Known As: Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door
Filming Locations: Fort Lee, New Jersey, USA
Runtime: 91 min

Jack Ketchum’s, The Girl Next door is loosely based on the grisly torture and subsequent murder of Silvia Likens by Gertrude Baniszewski during the summer of 1965; one of the most heinous crimes in American history. The plot centers on Meg (Blythe Auffarth) and Susan (Madeline Taylor) two sisters who have been sent from New York to live with their aunt, Ruth Chandler (Blanche Baker) and three cousins Willie (Graham Patrick Martin), Ralphie (Austin Williams) and Donny (Benjamin Ross Kaplan), in the wake of a horrific car wreck that killed both of their parents. The sisters soon find out that aunt Ruth is a sadistic psychopath that harbors a deep resentment of men and who thinks women are just filthy whores.  David, a young boy living in 1950’s Indiana, is neighbor to the Chandlers and becomes infatuated with Meg.

Never having read the original novel by Ketchum, I was aware of this twisted tale by a wiki article I’d read a few years back concerning the 1965 Likens murder; and was thrilled to see The Girl Next Door appear on Netflix a short while ago.  The film starts off with an older wealthy man reflecting on a past tragedy, things that could have been different, things he could have changed.  We learn that the older man is in-fact David, the protagonist of the film, who as a young boy, befriends Meg and Susan, the tragic victims of the story.  The Film is told mainly through David’s perspective as a flashback to his childhood during the summer of 1958.  The setting was spot on; retro clothing, classic cars and malt shops depicted a simpler time in The Girl Next Door.  One scene in particular involves David and Meg getting a few cheeseburgers and fries which he pays for with fifty cents (I wish).  From the chauvinistic macho attitudes to the smoking is healthy mentality, the film really nailed down small town 1950’s USA.

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