When you watch a thriller, a murder-mystery, or a horror film, you react to tense scenes in two ways. There’s a cognitive response (who’s the killer) as well as a physiological one (heartbeat increases). You may also start to feel anxious because you can’t take the suspense. After watching Adam Salky’s short film “Sometimes the Neighbor,” you’ll experience a similar kind of uneasiness. Nobody dies. There are no ghouls lurking behind street corners or hiding in closets. It’s not mounting suspense that’s almost too much to handle. It’s something else entirely.
“Sometimes the Neighbor” introduces you to a few people who affect each other’s lives. The film primarily focuses on Kara (Stacey Swift) and Tobey (Patrick Halliday). Kara is a painter and Tobey is a young guy who lives across the hall from her. “Sometimes the Neighbor” begins by establishing that these two know each other because Tobey poses as a model for Kara. As Salky’s film continues, and the music alternates between somber to antsy violins, you become cognitively fidgety.
In addition to figuring out if there is more than business between artist and model, you want to discover the extent that the characters’ lives are entwined. For instance, Kara is trying to reconnect with someone from her past named Ashley (Jessica Lawson). Since the nature of their relationship is initially unclear, you squirm mentally, waiting for the moment when the film sheds more insight on the situation.
Your eagerness to learn more about these characters is mainly due to Stacey Swift and Patrick Halliday’s performances. One of them is usually calmer and more comfortable than the other. There’s a nervous energy between them that affects you too. Portraying the painter who has something on her mind that she hasn’t (yet) revealed, Swift exudes an ever-present sheen of restlessness. It’s as if she’s waiting for something to happen or to be completed. This “impatience” stretches beyond the borders of your TV screen and you feel it.