Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another special AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. I had a chance to talk with actor Scott Speedman about the role in his new film GOOD NEIGHBORS which hit select theaters last Friday and may still be available On Demand. Before we jump into the interview, here’s a review of the film which I think you will find to be a pleasant and chilling surprise.
GOOD NEIGHBORS (2011)Directed by Jacob Tierney
Written by Jacob Tierney
Starring Scott Speedman, Jay Baruchel, Emily Hampshire, Anne-Marie Cadieux, & Micheline Lanctôt
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
This thriller from the land up North may not be the cup of tea for you gore hounds out there, but for fiends of all things Hitchcockian, GOOD NEIGHBORS is a can’t miss. This film totally took me by surprise by the depths it goes and the twists it unleashes. Writer/director Jacob Tierney (who previously unleashed the unconventional comedy TROTSKY with Baruchel and the homosexual reinterpretation of Oliver Twist in TWIST) does a fantastic job of reeling in the viewer with a trio of interesting characters, then throwing all expectations for a loop as to how far these three will go. In many ways, this is the polar opposite of all of those feel-good twenty-something neighbors in the same apartment films like SINGLES and WITH HONORS. In those films, the actors meet, get to know one another, and then get into each others lives which in the end helps them with whatever issue each suffers from. Here, three folks meet; they get into each others lives, and then try for the rest of the film to get out of them, though their lives are destined to intersect. What this says about modern society and how hard it is to trust one’s neighbor is beside the point. What matters is that Tierney has pulled off a fantastic game of whodunit with GOOD NEIGHBORS, a serial killer thriller worth seeking out.
All three of the main actors (Scott Speedman,Jay Baruchel, & Emily Hampshire) deliver fantastic performances and up until a point, it could be any of the three who are doing the rape/killings that are terrorizing a specific neighborhood in Montreal. Speedman’s Spencer is a surprisingly menacing performance which reflects a suppressed anger that comes from being stuck in a wheelchair and out of control in a world he seems to long to master. Baruchel’s Victor seems harmless, but events occur mid-film indicating that he is somewhat delusional and obsessive. Is he the killer? Or is it Hampshire’s Louise who is fascinated with the crimes and definitely playing with the emotions of both of her neighbors for her own amusement. Tierney’s script pulls you in at first as these three exchange pleasantries, then pulls back the curtains and shows how twisted friendships can often become. The explosive climax is filled with one back stab after another until you don’t know who is telling the truth.
Tierney patiently unfolds the mystery and though I guessed it somewhat early on, he keeps the twists going that everything doesn’t hinge on the identity of the real killer. Instead he focuses on strong character and taking full advantage of the cold winter landscape that is Montreal. Through numerous musical interludes, Tierney explores every inch of this expansive apartment complex through the eyes of Louise’s two cats, which factor greatly into the overall plot. GOOD NEIGHBORS also goes for twisted comedy as well at times in which some of the most macabre moments are looked at through an absurd lens. One might overlook this film in this summer of overblown blockbusters, but when you’re finished with all the fluff, GOOD NEIGHBORS is a truly unique twisted little mystery that is sure to be remembered.
@’s by Scott Speedman of GOOD NEIGHBORS!
AMBUSH BUG: I just saw the film last night. Can you tell some of the readers here on Ain’t It Cool what the film is about just for those who don’t know about it yet?
SCOTT SPEEDMAN (SS): The movie is set in 1995 in Montreal and it’s sort of centered around three different characters all living in the same apartment complex and there’s these sort of serial killing type murders going on all over the city, but particularly their neighborhood--Notre Dame De Grace, it’s called. So it’s sort of a basic throwback thriller. It’s set in the dead of winter, it’s classically done, and the three people become involved in some way with the serial killings and you don’t know who is doing what and you don’t know what they are all up to. Plus it’s a very dark comedy as well, which was fun to play around with.
BUG: I was going to talk about that, how dark this film is. It starts out like your typical three kind of like younger 20 or 30 somethings in the same complex and people who don’t know it’s a thriller might be actually surprised about halfway through when it starts to turn really dark.
SS: Yeah, that was the fun part that grabbed me was really the turns in the script. They just came out of nowhere for me and was really fun. I haven’t gotten to do a movie like this, so I was really excited to do it.
BUG: Yeah, well let’s talk a little bit about your character and specifically what attracted you to that character in the film?
SS: It’s something I haven’t done before. I mean Jacob [Tierney] actually wrote it with me in mind. It was fascinating to get the actual material and read what he had written. I don’t know. I was just really drawn to how much fun this guy had in what he was doing and how much fun the character was. I just thought it was a really stylized piece and thought it would be really fun to play that guy. I liked how unfazed he was. I liked how politically incorrect he is, that he does and says what he wants, and I loved his relationship with Louise; I thought that was really interesting.
BUG: Yeah, it was really cool just how direct you are in the film and it’s like a lot of times when you are talking, you have a very threatening tone, but then you are smiling through the whole thing which makes it all the more menacing.
SS: Yeah, for sure, and that was something that was tricky to find. To try and figure that tone out was what took a while.
BUG: I know in the film you were in a wheelchair and a couple of months ago I broke my ankle and I just had to spend a very short time in a wheelchair and it was a really freaky experience for me. What was that like for you to be in the wheelchair for the film?
SS: Yeah, it does something immediately to you, I mean I got a wheelchair down to Los Angeles and had it at my house and it was almost immediately obvious how little I could do even just in my house. It was that and you know, obviously you have to have everything done to scale so you can live appropriately; I just thought it was very eye-opening to say the least. I just wanted it to be true to what it was and do it well and not just show up to set, get in a wheel chair, and wheel around. I’d say it was definitely an eye-opening experience.
BUG: Okay, so what was it like with the other actors in the film? It was pretty much a three actor film; I mean, there were some other characters in there, but most of the time it was one of you three on screen. Did you guys spend a lot of time together while filming this?
SS: Yeah, we got a long really well. We were all very friendly and, you know, just really liked each other. There were a lot of laughs on the set for sure. It was good times. Making movies are stressful, but this one was fun.
BUG: Great…and this was filmed on location in Canada, correct?
SS: Yeah in Montreal.
BUG: You’re Canadian, right?
SS: Yeah, I grew up in Toronto.
BUG: Okay, so what was it like filming up there in your homeland?
SS: Oh you know, I’ve filmed up there a bunch, but Montreal specifically is a very cool city, a very specific city, so any time you get a chance to work there it’s pretty great.
BUG: You’ve done quite a few genre films like this that are pretty dark with the UNDERWORLD stuff and all of the rest of them like STRANGERS and things like that; are these the types of films that you are always attracted to?
SS: No, I mean I’ll change if something comes along that sort of attracts me, but I don’t know. I don’t do them just to do that genre, you know, I get offered a lot of those kinds of movies and rarely do I want to do them; most of them just aren’t up to snuff in terms of what I’m looking for. When it came to UNDERWORLD and those movies I thought Len [Wiseman] had a really interesting visual sense, I had a hunch about him as a director and the trinity was just kind of an amazing sprint that I was just dying to be a part of and then this one was about an interesting character that I hadn’t approached before, so there are specific reasons why I’ve done those movies.
BUG: GOOD NEIGHBORS definitely reminds me of a Hitchcockian sort of thing where it’s a “who done it” sort of thing.
SS: Well, it shows off the director. I think that’s part of what I liked about it, and how it didn’t leave a lot of room for bringing your own ideas. It was really interesting that way. The first act sort of sets everything up, the second act has the giant turn, and the third act is where the movie gets really fast paced and fun. That script was very enjoyable to read and it was really fun, hopefully, to watch.
BUG: It definitely was. Well I don’t know if you have to be a cat lover, but it probably helps to be one watching this film--how about you? Are you a cat lover? (Laughs)
SS: I’m not a cat lover, but I’ve got nothing against cats. (Laughs) I’m more of a dog person, you know?
BUG: It seems like in this film people either love them or hate them. But they do play a pretty important role in the story.
SS: Yeah, they do.
BUG: So what was it like with the director? You said he chose you specifically in mind for the role?
SS: Oh yeah he wrote, for all three main characters, he had written it with them in mind. Jay [Baruchel] and him and Emily [Hampshire] are very close and have done a lot of movies together, but I almost did a movie with Jacob back in the day—a long time ago that didn’t happen--so we’ve been wanting to work together for a while. I’m a big fan of his, and I don’t know, I think he’s a really talented guy.
BUG: It definitely plays out really well. The pace is really great. You guys are interesting actors yourselves, so it’s great when it focuses on that, but then once the story gets rolling you really get pulled into it.
SS: That’s really nice of you to say. I think Jacob should get a lot of credit for that; he’s a really interesting director that way.
BUG: I see this film is available on Video On Demand right now--is it going to have a theatrical release?
SS: It’s going to have a run in New York and LA opening this weekend but it is on Video On Demand right now, yeah.
BUG: Have you ever visited the site, Ain’t It Cool News, at any point?
SS: I haven’t, to be honest…but I will. I know it’s a big deal. I know it’s a huge site, but I haven’t been there.
BUG: It’s kind of like cats, people love it or hate it too.
SS: Ha! I’ll check it out.
BUG: Is there anything else, any final words you might have for the people reading?
SS: Just that I think if they are a fan of this genre then you should check it out. There’s definitely not a lot out there like this right now.
BUG: I totally agree with you. Well, thanks a lot for taking the time to talk with me. I appreciate it.
SS: All right, thanks a lot man.
Bug: Look for GOOD NEIGHBORS on VOD right now and in select theaters in New York and LA! It’s definitely a thriller worth checking out.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger / reviewer / co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Mark is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and will be releasing FAMOUS MONSTERS first ever comic book miniseries LUNA in October (co-written by Martin Fisher with art by Tim Rees)! Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the covers to purchase)!
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