I watched The Boys Next Door because I read the following words in Kindertrauma’s review: 1985, Penelope Spheeris, Netflix streaming. Stopped reading right there. I wasn’t disappointed–although I will say that this isn’t a movie I’d recommend to most of my readers, even those who do like a lot of horror flicks. The Boys Next Door is sleazy and free of redeeming social value. As Kindertrauma notes, there’s a ton of in-character racism and homophobia and misogyny, and it’s ugly but also basically, nihilistically accepted by the movie. This isn’t a movie like Deadgirl where the sordid and hateful elements exist to be interrogated.
Still, I found this thing totally effective, in the way that bottom-shelf vodka is effective at what you buy it for. The basic idea is that there are these two high school seniors, total social rejects played by Maxwell Caulfield and Charlie Sheen, who start factory jobs on Monday but take a weekend road trip to Los Angeles to postpone their future for a while. The violence ratchets up relentlessly as the dead-eyed, rage-filled Roy (Caulfield) pushes his slightly more human best friend Bo (Sheen) to give in to his worst impulses. This road is going nowhere good.
The movie is just gloriously 1980s LA all over its face. Sheen is amazing; you can’t stop watching him. He absolutely sells his character. He and Caulfield both have this supremely sleazy, hyper-macho swinging walk, all hips and hanging arms. Caulfield isn’t as believable as Sheen, although he does have an awful, spooky wheezing laugh, and there’s an early scene where he’s wheeze-laughing and rolling his head like he’s lost the bones in his neck and it’s just way too horrific. The soundtrack is incredible–both the preexisting music, like the Cramps’ “I’m a Gorehound,” and the eerie score. The movie just sucks you in. It’s also unexpectedly moralistic about the value of accepting your lot: resignation, if that’s the only alternative to rage. “If that’s all I can have then that’s all I want!” Bo admits, in his character’s major turning point.
Highly recommended for anyone who thinks the previous paragraphs sound like something they’d want to watch. Saner people should probably stay away….