Neighbor Number 13 (2005)

Neighbor Number 13 (2005)

 

 

Overall rating: 2.5 Stars 2.5/5
Story :1.5 Stars
Acting :2 Stars
Cinematography :1.5 Stars
Visual Effects :2.5 Stars

 

Bullying is a pretty big problem In Japanese culture, even more so than in America. There’s the occasional news story that comes up of kids being bullied to death whether it be the bully who was directly or indirectly the cause of the problem or the child commits suicide. So it would be expected for this social problem to materialize in mainstream media, enter the 2005 psychological horror/thriller Neighbor Number 13 (隣人13号).

The opening scene takes place at a small building in the desert and this scene is occasionally revisited throughout the movie. It is metaphorically representative of the mental state of the main character. Feeling isolated and alone, two different men periodically trade places. It isn’t until the real story starts that this scene makes sense.
The story starts with a young schoolboy who is being tormented by a group of bullies doing various demeaning things to him, including pouring acid on his face. Fast forward to present day, the child has become an adult but his psychological state is shattered. The stress from youthful bullying gone to far has caused a split in his personality and a sort of doppelganger of sorts is released in very stressful situations. The turning point of the story comes when his childhood tormentor moves into the apartment above him and they also find themselves working together, where the adult bully continues to do what he’s always done best.

As the film progresses, the stress brought about by the new bullying causes the dark side of his personality to become more and more predominant leading up to the climax of the movie. In the traditional Japanese psychological horror sense, the movie plays on the social fears of bullying and lack of an outlet to release emotional stress.

Overall I thought this was an interesting movie and an interesting example of how the stress of daily life effects the Japanese psyche. While nothing about the movie was spectacular I would still give it a decent rating and it’s interesting to watch if nothing else but for the personification of a social problem that will probably never be fully dealt with.