AGORA
: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.


CRITICAL WOMEN HEADLINES

10/14/07

Female Torture, Mutilation and Sex Abuse in a Not Accidental Red Scare Period Suburban Basement Bomb Shelter

Much more than just your basic sadistic horror thriller, Gregory M. Wilson's The Girl Next Door redefines the notion of guilty pleasure as raw and potent allegory, and corrective to the US culture of conformist collective complicity, not to mention violence as entertainment. Likewise, an unraveling of that elephant in the screening room, characterized by decades of denial regarding repugnant national mythmaking and feigned innocence since America moved into deadly superpower imperialist mode following WW II.

Based on the Jack Ketchum novel of the same name which fictionalizes the real life communal torture and murder of unfortunate Indiana teen Sylvia Marie Likens in 1965, The Girl Next Door relocates to the 1950s to shed light on the dark origins of the present day during "a period of strange repressions and secrets." These are the guilt-ridden musings of David (Daniel Manche), looking back with shame and fatefully belated remorse on his own fearful passivity as a preteen when he observed his female friend Meg (Blythe Auffarth) being sexually abused and tortured to death at the hands of her increasingly depraved alcoholic Aunt Ruth (a repulsively mesmerizing Blanche Baker) in her not accidental Red Scare period basement bomb shelter. Most shocking about the crime is that it takes place in the basement of an idyllic 1950s Jersey suburb, as the mom entrusted with the care of the orphaned Meg and her younger sister Susan (Madeline Taylor) after the death of their parents, elicits the willing participation of her own young sons and their friends in the neighborhood.

A brave and chilling antidote to the traditional collective delusion both on and off screen of US innocence during the 1950s, The Girl Next Door candidly bares the metaphorical basement, that in-the-closet Dorian Gray Ugly American litany of US crimes against humanity. In other words, beneath that national cloak of serenity and cheer, the silence then and now surrounding Jim Crow, race lynchings, the Red Scare and persecution of the left, and the advent of deadly imperialist military aggression, adventurism, and wholesale massacres and CIA target assassinations around the world, including in Iran, Guatemala, Cuba and, yes, Vietnam. Some other films like River's Edge and Jindabyne have tentatively approached this hot topic, but like The Girl Next Door's protagonist, have mostly tread hesitantly into truth seeking territory. Bravo, Gregory Wilson.

Prairie Miller

2 comments:

  1. Okay, the left is now officially beyond parody.

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  2. I started to watch the movie, but I couldn't watch it...the subject matter creeped me out and on top of that, it was kind of cheesy.

    Well, this web page has to be a joke. Praire must be off her rocker! America is evil? Look around, lady. The rest of the world is not such a nice place and remember, if you were born in say Iran, you would not even be allowed to post your deluded thoughts to the web. You might not even be allowed to go on line.

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