An aspiring prog-rock musician faces a rising body count after confronting his grotesque new neighbour in Destroy All Neighbors. William Brown (Jonah Ray) is a recording engineer and aspiring musician, trying to finish his prog-rock magnum opus in the apartment she shares with his girlfriend Emily (Kiran Deol). However, William faces a roadblock with the arrival of his grotesque new neighbour Vlad (Alex Winter), who blasts EDM all day and night. When William goes to confront Vlad, circumstances result in his neighbour's accidental decapitation. However, not only does William find himself tormented by Vlad, still very much alive, but his attempts to dispose of the body result in additional accidental deaths of William's neighbours.
Destroy All Neighbors Synopsis
Destroy All Neighbors is a horror-comedy directed by Josh Forbes and starring Jonah Ray (Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return) as aspiring prog-rock musician William Brown, who is always watching bass guitar tutorial videos by his hero Swig (Jon Daly). William finds himself fired from his day job as a recording engineer, thanks to the influence that pretension musician Caleb Bang Jansen (Ryan Kattner) has on William's boss Scott (Thomas Lennon). To make matters worse, William is driven crazy by the arrival of his new neighbour Vlad, played by Alex Winter (Bill & Ted Face the Music) under layers of grotesque prosthetic make-up, along with his constantly being asked to do favours for building manager Eleanor (Randee Heller), dealing with the escaped pigs owned by Phillip (DeMorge Brown), and repeatedly being asked for croissants by homeless man Auggie (Christian Calloway).
William finally has enough of the EDM that Vlad is blasting day and night and goes to confront him in his apartment. Through a Rube Goldberg-style sequence of events, Vlad ends up being accidentally impaled and decapitated by William. However, it soon turns out that, despite being in multiple pieces, Vlad is still very much alive and he influences William to commit further manslaughters. William eventually decides to enlist the help of the reanimated corpses of his victims to finally complete his prog-rock album.
My Thoughts on Destroy All Neighbors
The plot of Destroy All Neighbors comes across as a mix of Peter Jackson's 1992 splatter comedy Dead-Alive, 2015's heavy metal horror-comedy Deathgasm, the 2014 serial killer dark comedy The Voices and 1993's Freaked, the directorial debut of co-star Alex Winter. In fact, the main appeal of Destroy All Neighbors is arguably the scene-stealing performance by Winter as Vlad, who moves back and forth between being a full-on antagonist to Jonah Ray's William to being a reluctant ally. Winter is practically unrecognizable under the layers of prosthetic makeup and an accent that I believe is supposed to be Romanian, but sounds more Irish. Alex Winter also makes an appearance sans makeup at one point in the film, playing William's lawyer.
Destroy All Neighbors has a 1980s-throwback feel with practical special effects and gore. This includes the dismembered Vlad using his entrails as tentacles and a full-on animatronic puppet being used to depict the reanimated scorched remains of one of the victims. However, despite the cool effects, Destroy All Neighbors is admittedly light on the story, as the plot develops to a climax that sees William recruit the corpses of his victims to help with the recording of his prog-rock album.
As Alex Winter has mostly put aside his acting career to focus on his role as a director of documentaries, such as last year's The YouTube Effect, it's fun to see him come back with a role that hearkens back to his early roles from the 1980s and 1990s. Winter going all in as Vlad is part of what makes Destroy All Neighbors a fun watch.