Readers may remember that the Squid interviewed Matt Shaw at the premiere of his first feature flick, Monster, back in 2018. Two years later, the director and his co-producer Justin Park are offering up a deliciously dark new creation: Next Door.
Shaw’s second offering is a fly-on-the-wall anthology that follows a central narrative, linking strangers together across tragic events surrounding one particular house. The production boasts ten chapters, which weave together a mixture of intrigue, violence and hard-hitting dialogue.
Viewers are lured through a maze of sinister and complex characters, each one more depraved than the last.
The film lacks some technical polish, and at times, the lighting and sound betray the production’s low budget. Despite these hiccups, however, it’s a valiant effort from Shaw and his team as they take us a warped journey behind closed doors.
Based on the book series F*ucked up Shorts, Next Door shows its audience no mercy. As the relentless brutality increases, viewers are cleverly guided from scene to scene, watching with bated breath as the characters face some gory home truths.
The film sports a diverse cast including Vas Blackwood (Creep, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) Jamie Lomas (Hollyoaks, EastEnders), Jeremy Edwards (Hollyoaks, Holby City), Tony Cook (Monster, Cain Hill) Danielle Harold (EastEnders, Monster), Rod Glenn (Monster, Ripper Street, Emmerdale) and many more.
The characters are well-balanced, providing a feast of dark comedy, intermingled with violence, love and loathing. Their grounded performances demonstrate how every-day people respond in extraordinary situations.
With a grotesque range of comically brutal scenes including curious sexual proclivities, an apocalyptic event, some good old-fashioned vengeance, and even a little cannibalism, Shaw’s second feature is far from predictable or squeamish.
Shaw himself has commented on the film’s gorier scenes, stating, “If you think the chewing scene from Monster was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Next Door may not boast the budget of its big-studio contemporaries, but demonstrates a commendable passion for low-budget indie filmmaking. Shaw proves that technical limitations can be overcome by a director with a keen eye for storytelling and a ballsy attitude.