Friday, January 12, 2024

‘Destroy All Neighbors’ Review – Scrappy Splatter-Comedy Leans Heavily on the Humor

New splatter-comedy Destroy All Neighbors has more on its mind than bad neighbors run amok. Director Josh Forbes, working from the screenplay by Charles Pieper and Jared Logan, crafts a Frank Henenlotter-inspired comedy full of guts and rock ambition. Nestled at the center is a sugary-sweet story of an artist learning to get out of his own way. While that means it has all the right ingredients in place for an infectiously scrappy horror comedy, it might be too narratively streamlined for its own good.

William Brown (Jonah Ray Rodrigues) dreams of prog-rock greatness. He works as a sound engineer at a low-rent music studio by trade and spends the rest of his waking hours trying to crack his magnum opus that’ll earn him a place in rock Valhalla. Well, almost. William frequently finds himself distracted by everything around him, especially his neighbors. Even more so with the arrival of new neighbor Vlad (Alex Winter), whose disregard for shared walls results in an accidental murder that catapults William on a bizarre self-discovery journey laden with undead corpses.

Destroy all Neighbors trailer

Forbes maintains a breakneck pace, cramming all manner of physical gags and improv riffs into the scant 85-minute runtime. It’s here where Destroy All Neighbors demonstrates its charms through Rodrigues’ affable straight man and a slew of impressive practical effects designed by SFX stalwart Gabe Bartalos. An almost unrecognizable Alex Winter leans into the eccentricities of Vlad, from his thick European accent and bops to EDM music between pumping iron, it’s Rodrigues’ quiet snark that often elicits the biggest laughs. Randee Heller, as the building manager Eleanor, steals every moment she’s on screen- dead and otherwise. Her brief scenes go a long way in building audience goodwill, even when some of the other comedic beats or cameos threaten to overstay their welcome.

Forbes’ splatter-comedy is dependent on its humor. William’s journey winds up more of a Cliff Notes version, with the hijinks taking precedence over the story. We barely get to know William’s put-upon girlfriend, Emily, trapping Kiran Deol in an archetypical role that doesn’t give her much to do beyond react with horror to her boyfriend’s emerging pile of talking corpses. The brisk pace may let the comedy take center stage, but it also flattens William’s arc in the process. It’s not helped by the film’s rougher edges; the sound mixing can be rough and often threatens to drown out Vlad’s dialogue altogether.

Alex Winter as Vlad

Much of that can easily be attributed to the film’s DIY punk spirit, at least, and Forbes smartly ensures that the film’s strongest asset- its practical effects- receives the most attention and care. Destroy All Neighbors is prone to self-indulgence with the comedy, and some bits overstay their welcome, but when it works, it’s impossible not to find yourself grinning. Forbes and team wear their hearts and influences on their sleeves here. Those on its wavelength won’t mind the rough edges or underdeveloped themes in this raucous comedy filled with enough moments and character beats to compensate. But this is a comedy through and through with a sole aim to entertain, so the flaws will only become more evident if this type of humor isn’t for you.

Destroy All Neighbors releases on Shudder on January 12, 2024.

2.5 out of 5 skulls

The post ‘Destroy All Neighbors’ Review – Scrappy Splatter-Comedy Leans Heavily on the Humor appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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