Dr. Gives the Needle
As a child Myron (Benjamin Shirinian) lost his father during the war and then his beloved mother during the birth of his baby brother. Many years later and Myron (Rod Steiger - The Amityville Horror) is now the town's doctor and lives next door to the house he grew up in, which he is selling. When he meets John (Ron Lea - Hanover Street) and Mary (Linda Kozlowski - Crocodile Dundee II), a young childless couple who are interested in the home, he agrees to sell it to them. What John and Mary don't know is that not only is Myron a psychopath but Mary reminds him of his dead mother. Whilst Mary starts to become suspicious of Myron and his interest in them others think it is down to Mary becoming pregnant and hormones causing her to become paranoid.
I think I may have watched a few too many made for TV movies because when I stumbled across "The Neighbor" and read the synopsis for it I thought for a minute it was another made for TV movie. The whole set up of the nice guy next door who is in fact a creepy psychopath is pretty typical of the made for TV genre. And the wife of a couple becoming paranoid by him whilst others think it is all in her head is just as typical of the made for TV genre. Whilst I am not sure whether "The Neighbor" got a full cinema release it is certainly a lot better than many similar TV movies.
There is a simple reason why "The Neighbor" is more effective than many a similar movie and that is the casting of Rod Steiger. Steiger is so effective when delivering menace that scene after scene of him pretending to be the nice guy next door has this edge of evil which unsettles you especially when it comes to Mary. In fairness both Linda Kozlowski and Ron Lea play their parts well with Linda making Mary instantly likeable but this movie works purely because of Rod Steiger.
The trouble with "The Neighbor" is that it is one of those movies where we learn right from the word go that Myron is a psychopath as we see how he behaves following his mother's death. As such whilst we have the set up of Mary reminding him of his mother and her pregnancy upsetting him because of the death of his mother, the movie really comes down to how well Rod Steiger can convey Myron's creepiness rather than what is actually going to happen.
What this all boils down to is that "The Neighbor" is certainly entertaining but it is also extremely predictable which if it wasn't for Rod Steiger delivering such a decent performance it might have struggled to be entertaining.