This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
SteadmanSlick’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
The motivations of Joe Dante in making this picture could've been as a pastiche of the mundanity of suburban life, or showing how the life is anything but. Either way, you can't deny that it oozes style, not necessarily in its cinematography, which is just above average, but in the plot and scoring. The dust devil kicking up only when Ray crosses the property line, the dramatic reveal of Klopek the younger, the subsequent attempt to establish contact, Ray's nightmare, and the discovery of Walter's femur the next morning - complete with dramatic zooming. All this leads up to Carrie, Ray's Wife, and Bonnie, Mrs. Rumsfield, to convince their husbands to go over and be neighborly.
We are introduced to Hans, the younger, and his uncle Reuben, the elder, and at long last to the third member of the family Werner, the dokterr. Over more awkward a meal than has been seen since Rocky Horror, Ray manages to find Walter's wig, which he last left in his locked house, hidden amongst all their junk. The plan is set, Ray & Art infiltrate while Rumsfield keeps watch from his rooftop. The two grow tired of excavating the backyard and finally enter the basement to discover an enormous furnace named Alan, if the plaque is anything to go by. They start digging down there late into the night, only for Walter to suddenly return from the hospital. And to make matters worse, so do the Klopeks return, with a cruiser in tow, just in time for Ray to pierce a gas line and send the manor house sky high.
We jump ahead to Carrie returning from her sister's house to find all the chaos that has erupted, and Art still trying to convince the officers that something fishy is going on, only for Ray to snap at him and go on a rant about how people like them, not the Klopeks, are the ones who hide in the suburbs and slowly go insane. He collapses on a gurney in the back of the ambulance on his lawn. Everything is winding down, only for Werner to enter the ambulance after him and ask for his skull back. The two struggle over a syringe containing some dubious concoction, and Hans crashes the thing through Art's front door, with the two still fighting on the gurney as it rolls out and back down the street in this beautifully chaotic tracking shot. They collide with Reuben's car, and the trunk pops open to reveal the bones of the Knapps, who used to live next door, and all the dokterr's past victims.
Ray decides its time for him, Carrie, and Dave to finally go up to the cabin for a real vacation, and as he goes into his house asks Ricky Butler to keep an eye on things for him.
A masterpiece that scratches an itch I've been living with for the past few weeks. Special thanks go out to my friend, Reverend Mittens, for suggesting I watch this in place of My Cousin Vinny, which I could not watch owing to a mixup at my local thrift store some 2 years back. A story for another time (read: never). And after some thought, I believe I love this movie enough to give it the coveted 4th slot in My Favorites.