1958. A quiet small town. Sensitive fifteen year old Meg Loughlin (a disarmingly sweet performance by Blythe Auffarth) and her crippled younger sister Susan (the excellent Madeline Taylor) are two orphaned girls who are taken care of by their stern and unhinged Aunt Ruth Chandler (superbly played with formidable steely grit by Blanche Baker) following the death of both their parents in a car accident. When Meg stands up to Ruth's harsh treatment of both herself and Susan, Ruth has her tied up in the basement and encourages a handful of local kids who include her own three sons and nice guy David Moran (a likable performance by Daniel Manche) to inflect all sorts of vicious abuse and torture on poor Meg. Director Gregory M. Wilson, working from an unsparingly grim and hard-hitting script by Daniel Farrands and Philip Nutman, offers a powerfully unsettling and provocative meditation on the destruction of innocence, the depraved wickedness lurking just underneath suburbia's well-manicured surface, the casual sadism of adolescence, and the horrors of strict discipline and rigid morality gone dangerously around the bend. Moreover, Wilson shows admirable restraint and suggests more than shows the various atrocities committed in the picture. It's this latter element of commendable tact and taste which gives this movie its extra unnerving edge. The uniformly terrific acting rates as another major asset: Baker delivers a positively chilling portrayal of serene evil as Ruth, Auffarth is both brave and heart-breaking as the unfortunate Meg, Moran likewise impresses as David, plus there are sound supporting contributions from Graham Patrick Martin as the mean Willie Chandler Jr., Catherine Mary Stewart as David's cheery mom, Grant Shaw as David's easygoing dad, and William Atherton as the regretful grown-up David. William M. Miller's fluid, sparkling cinematography, Ryan Shore's delicately melodic score, the nonexploitative and matter-of-fact handling of the unpleasant subject matter, and the frightening plausibility of the whole story further enhance the considerable jolting impact and potency of this profoundly disturbing and gut-wrenching descent into the cinematic abyss.
Meg Loughlin's parents are dead, causing her and her sister to live with their aunt Ruth. Ruth is not like the other parents: she allows the neighborhood children to smoke and drink, and has an intense dislike for Meg -- for no real reason. After telling the police about mistreatment, Meg's punishment becomes more and more severe.First, let me say that Blythe Auffarth (who plays Meg Loughlin) is an amazing actress. Some of the scenes in this film are truly awful -- not acted awful, mind you, but are just visually repellent. Most actresses would say no to the torture, rape and beatings contained in this film. And you cannot blame them. But Auffarth accepts the role and does an amazing job of being the normal "girl next door".While watching this film, I told myself I had finally found the spiritual successor to "Last House on the Left" and my opinion remains the same. Like "Last House", this film is scary because of its realism. The events could actually happen to the victim, it's not just a psycho with an ax (which, while possible, is more fantasy than anything). Perhaps this film even trumps "Last House" in a way because the events really did happen, and actually happened worse than depicted here. The real girl, for example, also had to consume human waste, which is not shown here.Making the film even more powerful is that we are shown the events from the point of view of the neighbor boy, who has a crush on Meg (despite being a few years younger). We watch them meet, become friends and then as events spin more and more out of control we see how completely helpless the boy is. While the boy is only mildly harmed in the film, it's an emotional roller coaster to be put in his shoes knowing everything that is happening and having nothing available to remedy it. The suffering he feels vicariously, we also feel vicariously. It's a pain train.I cannot recommend this film for the squeamish. I was very uneasy watching it, making this film a member of a very exclusive list (with such others as "Kids"). Even those who enjoy seeing a film of slaughter (and sometimes I do) will be shocked in some way by this one. It's not your Jason or Freddy film, it's your sister or girlfriend really being kidnapped and there's nothing you can do about it. And yes, this really did happen and it can happen again.
In the summer 1958, David Moran befriends Meg Loughlin who had just moved in next door. She and her crippled sister Susan from NYC lost their parents in the car accident. They are forced to live with their disturbed aunt Ruth Chandler (Blanche Baker) and her three sons. Ruth belittles the girls teaching her sons to abuse Meg. Soon the abuse turns to torture and rape as Ruth brings in the neighborhood kids. David tries to help Meg but he is a powerless boy.The story is beyond disturbing. It is more disturbing than even the worst torture porn generated by Hollywood. It is the use of children that is the most disturbing. The run-of-the-mill torture horror is something manufactured. It gets a scare and possibly a laugh. This movie disturbs the audience to their core. That's before I realize that it has a real life counterpart. The Sylvia Likens story sounds even worst. The pregnant daughter sounds just as scary as the mother. The movie does struggle to depict the torture in any acceptable way which is a tough proposition. Director Gregory Wilson doesn't bring much in terms of style. The lead kid is quite good but I'm not sure how any of the kids dealt with filming the torture.
Two movies based on Sylvia Likens released in 2007 took her harrowing story to the screen. The 16-year-old daughter of traveling carnival workers was left in the care of a school friend's mother in 1965. In exchange for $20 a week, Gertrude Baniszewski promised to room and feed the girl. What ultimately occurred was one of the most disturbing cases of pack mentality torture and murder ever recorded. 2b1af7f3a8