Suburban Nightmare Image

Suburban Nightmare

By Brian Shaer | March 7, 2020

Suburban Nightmare uses this harrowing real-life theoretical (some headlines of which are played over the end credits) as the springboard for its story. It comes as a bit of a disappointment then as Halpern elects to forego truly fleshing out the pathology behind Malcolm’s Norman Bates-ish character in favor of a standard home invasion horror flick. Malcolm goes a little too nuts too early, so by the time we discover why he behaves the way he does, it’s a “that’s it?” moment. Halpern falls into the trap of sensationalizing his story rather than exploring the implications of the scenario.

Where he does succeed is in portraying a realistic upper-middle-class Jersey neighborhood (it is mentioned that the movie takes place in New Brunswick, home to Rutgers University). Smart location shooting helps tremendously in achieving the “this could happen in your own backyard” feeling that Halpern is going for. Nothing in the film feels staged or artificial, right down to the food in the refrigerator. Suburban Nightmare almost has the scuzzy feeling of a snuff film.

“…telegraphs its intentions from the very beginning…”

Mills is as creepy as they come in terms of handsome drifters. He has an ominous quietude about him that makes his sudden explosions of violence all the more shocking. Halpern, as the Dad, has some nice moments, but some of his interactions with the family are woefully inappropriate (when his wife fondly recalls her first kiss as the family is enjoying breakfast, he asks her if there was tongue. Classy!)

While Suburban Nightmare is not a perfect movie (did no one change the sheets in the guest room between the previous tenant and Malcolm?), it nonetheless captures a potentially terrifying circumstance of the zeitgeist. If you have ever considered hosting a boarder from Airbnb or another such house-sharing service, Suburban Nightmare will make you reconsider. Vet your potential houseguests and bolt your doors so no one can ever get in or out.

Suburban Nightmare (2020)

Directed and Written: Richard Halpern

Starring: Richard Halpern, Sandra Rossi, Malcolm Mills, Anastasia Hristidis, James Paronich, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Suburban Nightmare Image

"…captures a potentially terrifying circumstance of the zeitgeist."

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  1. Kevin says:

    Where can I watch this movie?

  2. Henry Less says:

    Richard Halpern, the Writer/Director did a masterful job of bringing the characters to life. The dialogue is authentic, interesting and unpredictable, just like in real life.

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