Destroy All Neighbors is exactly what the title said — a horror-comedy where every neighbour in the apartment block is, well, destroyed. But before we get to that, Josh Forbes and screenwriters Mike Benner, Jared Logan and Charles A. Pieper focus on establishing the protagonist William Brown (Jonah Ray Rodrigues), a loser who’s been struggling to get his dream prog rock album off the ground. He lives with his girlfriend Emily (Kiran Deol) and works as a sound engineer at Industrial Sound & Magic, where he has to put up with the big-bully musician Caleb Bang Jansen (Ryan Kattner, who also co-scoring the music) in the studio. Then, there’s the homeless guy named Auggie (Christian Calloway), who keeps harassing him just because of a croissant.
Back home, he has to deal with the constant noise pollution caused by his new next-door neighbour Vlad (Alex Winter, looking unrecognisable in heavy prosthetics and also credited as one of the producers alongside Jonah Ray Rodrigues). He’s an obnoxious bully who can’t stop cranking up loud music and despite Emily’s suggestion to go talk to him, William dislikes confrontation.
Well, it’s a matter of time before William confronts his new neighbour — a result where everything goes sideways. From here, Destroy All Neighbors gives us a bonkers mix of splatter horror and zany comedy within a limited budget. Forbes doesn’t shy away from extreme gore and graphic violence, all of which are played for laughs in a pitch-black comedy vibe. We have a talking severed head, exposed intestines and even a character with one side of the face disfigured by a tire mark, just to name a few.
Body counts pile up as the movie progresses and it all happens because of the accidental deaths, leaving William becoming a “serial manslaughter” rather than a serial killer. The movie’s anything-goes storyline is a mixed bag with some scenes slacking around aimlessly, making the otherwise lean 85-minute length feel longer than expected.
It’s hard not to compare Forbes with his like-minded peers such as Sam Raimi, Stuart Gordon and even Frank Henenlotter, given Destroy All Neighbors‘ B-movie throwback of splatter horror-comedy of the VHS era. The only biggest gripe about his direction is his tendency to hold back when he should have gone all out. The actors, notably Jonah Ray Rodrigues and the scene-stealing Alex Winter are both unforgettable in their respective roles as William Brown and Vlad.
Supporting roles like Randee Heller as the irresponsible building manager who loves to bug William into helping her fix the households and Ryan Kattner as the cocky and domineering musician Caleb Bang Jansen deserve equal mention as well. Also, look out for Kumail Nanjiani showing up in a memorable cameo appearance as the cumbersome smelting refinery guard.
I’m also glad the gore and violence are done in an old-school, practical way. And let’s not forget about the psychedelic opening sequence animated by Rich Zim, best known for his works in The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline and TV’s Robot Chicken.
Destroy All Neighbors is currently streaming on Shudder.