The House Always Wins
Walker (Colin Ferguson) and Col Kennedy (Lara Flynn Boyle) are not overly impressed when a developer starts to build a new, ultra modern home on the vacant land next to there's but once it is done play the nice neighbours as do everyone else in the street. Col in particular finds herself befriending Kim (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) the architect who despite designing the house for a young couple seems obsessed by it and unable to let go. But Col and Walker begin to suspect not all is right with this new house as those who move in seem to turn violent and often end up falling victim to it. As others in the neighbourhood who spend time in the house start falling victim of the house Walker and Col decide they need to act for their own sake.
As "The House Next Door" starts it is as if we have been taken to Wisteria Lane and the world of the "Desperate Housewives" with opening scenes of gossipy narration with a catty edge. It is misleading as "The House Next Door" is not a take on "Desperate Housewives" but instead wants to be a thriller where strange things happen in a new house and the neighbours suspect that the house is behind those strange things as people become victims. Yet it isn't exactly the creepiest of movies going and whilst watch able you get a sense that despite the good cast the limitations which come from being a made for TV movie have robbed this of its power.
I say that because "The House Next Door" is based on a novel by Anne Rivers Siddons and as per usual there are reviews out there which point out this is weak compared to the novel. Whilst rarely does a movie do a book real justice I do get a sense that to squeeze the story in to the confines of 90 minutes it has rushed certain things. For example when the second couple move in next door it is only one scene later that the wife is having visions of her dead son. There needed to be more build up and by just tossing this at us it forces things. This is the same throughout right up until Walker and Col decide what they need to do to rid their street of the curse of the house next door. I won't say what they do but from my understanding it differs from the book.
What "The House Next Door" has going for it is the casting with Lara Flynn Boyle delivering that strong characterisation you expect but not so strong that she makes the rest of the cast look bad. In some cases the rest of the cast are a bit hit and miss with some of those playing the other neighbours in the street feeling like they would be better off in Wisteria Lane amongst the Desperate Housewives. And then there is Mark-Paul Gosselaar as architect Kim who unfortunately finds himself with a character who seems to change who he is half way through the movie which ends up feeling wrong.
What this all boils down to is that "The House Next Door" is an entertaining made for TV movie which has a surprisingly good look and benefits from Lara Flynn Boyle in the lead role. But it feels like it is a story which needed longer both in development and in running time to do the story justice.