THE EVIL NEXT DOOR movie poster | ©2021 Magnet Releasing

THE EVIL NEXT DOOR movie poster | ©2021 Magnet Releasing

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Dilan Gwyn, Eddie Ericksson Dominguez, Linus Wahlgren
Writers: Tord Danielsson & Oskar Mellander
Directors: Tord Danielsson & Oskar Mellander
Distributor: Magnet Releasing
Release Date: June 25, 2021

THE EVIL NEXT DOOR (original title ANDRA SIDAN) has an opening title card that informs us the film is “inspired by real events.” An online search did not immediately turn up any results, even when the onscreen dates are added. At a guess, THE EVIL NEXT DOOR may bear the same relation to reality as THE AMITYVILLE HORROR.

In any event, we’re in Sweden (with subtitles for those of us who don’t speak Swedish). In a prologue, a hysterical mother tries unsuccessfully to prevent her child from being taken by something we cannot see.

Then it’s 2014. Fredrik (Linus Wahlgren), his five-year-old son Lukas (Eddie Ericksson Dominguez), and Fredrik’s girlfriend Shirin (Dilan Gwyn) are being shown around a duplex by a real estate agent. From the sequence, we learn that a) Fredrik and Shirin are both oddly unconcerned about why nobody seems to have lived in the other half of the duplex in a good while, b) Lukas senses the presence of another child, and c) real estate agents are apparently the same all over the world.

Fredrik and Shirin decide the duplex is perfect and purchase the half they’ve seen. They move in on September 26, 2014. In short order, we learn that Lukas’s mother died of cancer, that Fredrik is a loving dad, and that Shirin isn’t sure she’s cut out to be a stepmother, especially when Fredrik is called away abruptly for an out-of-town job.

By October 5, Lukas is asking Shirin if people can come back from the dead, and talking to someone who seems to be on the other side of the duplex wall. After a couple of eerie experiences of her own, Shirin is ready to believe there’s a problem here, but Fredrik can’t wrap his mind around it.

Directors/writers Tord Danielsson & Oskar Mellander use deliberately desaturated colors and a slightly greenish hue to enhance the sense of dread they create. They also do well with sparing but effective shots of what is sometimes a creepy little boy and sometimes an all-out monster. They also have good directional sound, which moves in keeping with the action from one side of the screen to the other.

THE EVIL NEXT DOOR works well enough within the framework of its main mandate, which is to create tension and deliver jump scares.

However, on a larger scale, the film doesn’t quite work. When Shirin does the obligatory investigation into the haunting, she only checks out the inhabited side of the duplex. We don’t require a massive mythology dump, but a little curiosity about what happened on the other side, and why it’s been empty for so long, seems warranted.

Also, while Shirin is new-ish to the situation of caring for Lukas, there are moments where she seems extraordinarily insensitive. Likewise, we don’t think much of Fredrik for leaving son and girlfriend so unprepared. There are the usual unfortunate horror tropes with people who seem slow to grasp what a given situation requires.

This said, Gwin and Wahlgren give committed performances, and Dominguez is affecting as the confused young Lukas.

THE EVIL NEXT DOOR has some imagery that will linger in the imagination, and some solid scares. It’s not great, but it’s good enough.

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