Film Review – Destroy All Neighbors (2024)

It would be impossible for a movie of this nature to not feel slightly uneven at some point but that is strangely meant as a compliment...

One of the remote controls in my lair started malfunctioning recently. This is an unacceptable happenstance when you consider that I prefer not to leave my lair on winter weeknights unless absolutely necessary. What followed was an outlay of nearly $40 on batteries at a local drugstore which further incentivized me to make sure that I was getting my money’s worth out of my streaming services. Thus I began to keep a bastardized ledger of accounting. I’ll spare you the details, except to say that as the end of January drew nigh my ledger informed The Doctor that I needed to watch something on Shudder*. No problem, now that the supply area of my pantry has been restocked with batteries. I poured a can of Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA (9% ABV) into a tankard and decided on the brand spanking new Shudder Original movie Destroy All Neighbors.


Our main character is a thirty-ish young main named William (Jonah Ray), an aspiring musician now reduced to a one-man band who has been working on a progressive or “prog” rock album for the last three years. The “prog” rock angle remains an entertaining theme throughout Destroy All Neighbors. To the filmmakers credit, I couldn’t tell if they were intending to make fun of what is known as progressive rock or actually wanted to celebrate it. The end result is almost perfectly in between. (Anyone want to hear The Doctor belt out a few verses of “Owner Of a Lonely Heart” by prog pioneers Yes? I didn’t think so.)

William lives with his supportive girlfriend Emily (Kiran Deol) in an old, rundown apartment building that is on its last legs. Anyone who has ever lived in a seedy apartment or spent a night in a No Tell Motel against better judgment will appreciate the interior hallway of William and Emily’s home. It reminded me of the time that The Doctor and TNCC chairman Matthew Cade were forced to pass an evening at an America’s Best Value Inn many years ago during a business trip gone awry. We stayed up all night drinking Steel Reserve malt liquor because we were afraid of what might happen if we let our guards down and turned out the lights. But I digress. William also drives a battered Econoline van and works at a small recording studio for shitty local musicians, thereby completing the picture of the struggling, lackadaisical artist. Thomas Lennon of Reno 911 and Ryan Kattner transform these scenes at the recording studio into amusing interludes. Unlike the America’s Best Value Inn, which had no amusing interludes. Time for another Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA.

Making matters worse, William returns home from work to witness the arrival of a new neighbor named Vlad (Alex Winter, unrecognizable under the makeup.). Vlad is an Eastern European with an abnormally enlarged head who makes guttural screaming noises and plays his music too loud.

All in all, it’s been one hell of a day for William…

As it turns out, Vlad actually is somewhat unhinged, so much so that it is not always easy to make out precisely what he is saying. I can’t register this as a complaint, however, because it somehow adds to the overall zaniness that is Vlad. When Vlad dies in a confrontation with William that is basically just an unfortunate accident, Destroy All Neighbors joyfully drops any traces of subtlety and takes the full plunge into true Horror Comedy. William now begins to act unhinged himself, suddenly unsure of this new, absurd reality. The movie gets points for originality and also some masterful visual and special effects. Destroy All Neighbors is not for the squeamish; there are literally geysers of blood. I would posit, however, that such gruesome aspects are necessary in Horror Comedy. In order to reach the requisite high points, the best of these films need to go over the top in a way that “straight” horror does not. The bloodletting and the silly situations in this film combined in a manner that really worked for me. I think this is probably trickier to pull off than it sounds. I was reminded less of films such as Shaun Of The Dead and more of the abject lunacy of something like Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste, albeit with much better production values.

Vlad (Alex Winter) and William (Jonah Ray) ratchet up the craziness!

The acting is also first rate. Ray gives a winning performance as William, both in the film’s early stages when he is a would-be slacker artist and later on throughout one crazy turn of events after another. Winter is gleefully nuts as Vlad, and Deol, Lennon, Kattner and Kumail Nanjiani in a cameo as a security guard are all enjoyable. There are a couple of times when Destroy All Neighbors seems like a collection of wacky sketches, but they are not loosely assembled. It would be impossible for a movie of this nature to not feel slightly uneven at some point but that is strangely meant as a compliment. You’ll have to watch Destroy All Neighbors to fully appreciate my ramblings, and I recommend that all fans of Horror Comedy do so at the first opportunity. I cannot overstate that this film is not for everyone, but then I’ll assume that you likely do not subscribe to Shudder if you fall into the “not for everyone” category. As always, my friends, The Doctor wishes you all a clean bill of health.

* Shudder deserves a free plug here from The Doctor, although if they want to hire me for future advertisements they will find me agreeable. For something like $5 a month, Shudder gives you access to a wealth of horror movies and TV ranging from 70s and 80s classics like Halloween to original content such as Destroy All Neighbors and animated, holiday-themed episodes of Creepshow. If you have a few warped neurons running loose in your brain like The Doctor and TNCC maestro Cade – and you know who you are – then Shudder is money well spent. If only we’d had access to Shudder during that Long Night of the Soul in the America’s Best Value Inn…

Beyond The Pod

The Doctor attended The Poughkeepsie Institute of Technical Science or, as it is colloquially referred to, The Pits. His thesis paper "It's Far to Early to Tell" has been used in classrooms as an example of how NOT to formulate a medical science theory. The Doctor was previously employed in Mallorca, Spain as a master of ceremonies and first aid provider at local wine tastings before joining the Tuesday Night Cigar Club.