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Destroy All Neighbors: Fun But Missing Some Comedy


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We are back to some Shudder Roulette! I watched the fairly well-received Suitable Flesh recently on the streaming service, and it wasn’t quite for me, unfortunately. I found it to be very Malignant-adjacent, but it didn’t have the same respectability quotient as James Wan’s bonkers outing. That movie was a big budget, big studio release that had the confidence to advertise itself as a straight horror rather than the nutso, throwback, intentionally-bad calamity it actually was. Suitable Flesh was nothing but a low-budget indie flick trying to play off the same “So Bad It’s Good” vibes, but it wasn’t doing so as ironically or with a big studio’s blessing. And I already watch a bunch of bad movies on Shudder including Destroy All Neighbors, another recent Shudder offering I decided to check out.


DESTROY ALL NEIGHBORS. (left to right) Alex Winter as Vlad and Jonah Ray as William Brown. Photo Courtesy of RLJE Films and Shudder Films.

It is the story of William, a struggling prog-rock musician and doormat of a human being who despises confrontation and lets people walk all over him. He can’t stand up to even the most unintentional and innocent of bullies like his landlady or his boss. Despite this, he has a hard time putting his girlfriend Emily’s needs over his own selfish concerns and obsessions. When a new neighbor, Vlad moves in, William’s worst qualities are pushed to the limit. Vlad is the worst neighbor of all: Extremely loud, boisterous, and gross. William can’t get any work done for all the ruckus, but he is too terrified to engage Vlad either. He drones on about him to Emily, but he can’t figure out a solution.

After things go too far one night, William ends up in Vlad’s apartment, and the two begin arguing, with Vlad demanding that William strike him and take out his aggression on him. This results in Vlad slipping on a mess on his floor and impaling himself on a rod. That’s still not the end of William’s neighbor… until he tries to pull himself up and ends up decapitating himself. From there, William’s life turns into a comedy of errors and even more accidental deaths as he tries to hide Vlad’s own passing from the cops, all while still trying to also perfect his prog-rock album. As the body count mounts, can William get everything he wants out of life?


DESTROY ALL NEIGHBORS. (left to right) Alex Winter as Vlad and Jonah Ray as William Brown. Photo Courtesy of RLJE Films and Shudder Films.

They sure roped a respectable cast into this low budget flick, including the likes of Alex Winter, Thomas Lennon, and even MCU cast member Kumail Nanjiani! It was surprising to see such recognizable faces in this extremely indie movie I found on Shudder as a streaming service original. And Alex Winter is basically the co-star of the whole picture as Vlad! He is completely hidden under pounds of prosthetics and make-up, but make no mistake, it’s him in there. And he is the star of the whole show. Winter’s performance as Vlad carries the film from beginning to end. Whereas Jonah Ray has his ups and downs as William, Winter is nothing but a star as his obnoxious, frightful neighbor.

This flick had a relatively perfect ending with William in prison on three consecutive life sentences, but nonetheless a happy man because he finally produced the album he’d been struggling over for years. It simultaneously gives him a happy or at least contented ending, while also refusing to ignore how most horror movies end in such a way that leave a sensible audience member thinking, “Well, now they go to jail forever, right?” William faces the realistic ramifications of his serial manslaughter but it still all kind of works out.

DESTROY ALL NEIGHBORS. Jonah Ray as William Brown. Photo Courtesy of RLJE Films and Shudder Films.

Parts of this movie either can’t or won’t make clear as to whether what all is going on is taking place in William’s head or not. And while it’s probably just my obsessing over the minutiae of cinema, I was so confused trying to figure out whether these reanimated bodies were real or figments of his imagination. It seems most likely that nothing we see is actually happening. Other characters do not react to the things Vlad says, for instance, and Emily claims not to hear noises that William does. But then something will happen like Vlad’s limbs effecting other people, Vlad saying he called the cops, or even the entire climax where the album is put together and they are all playing instruments on it together. I can abide with some ambiguity in my films, sure, but this wasn’t Memento, you know? It shouldn’t have been that hard to work out if what I’m seeing is “real” or not.

While the movie is fun and enjoyable, it’s never really laugh-out-loud funny. There are comedic moments, like when Augie the homeless guy starts telling William he is about to be visited by three ghosts for not giving him a croissant But by and large, the best jokes here just kind of make you smile and move on. Compare that to any number of other Horror-Comedies, even just those found exclusively on Shudder, and they typically merit at least a few sensible chuckles. I watched Destroy All Neighbors the same week I watched Teeth, which is not really a comedy at all, and and yet, it made me laugh far more than this comedic effort did.


Fun, but not TOO fun, Destroy All Neighbors is a nice little outing if you have the time to kill and want to watch something on Shudder. It’s neither wildly scary nor uproariously funny, but it’s mildly worth it for Alex Winter’s unhinged performance.

★★ Out of 5

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