Good Neighbours is nervy pervy

Apartment mates stalked by referendum serial killer

The third feature by Montreal actor and filmmaker Jacob Tierney is an often pervy nervy piece of business — and all the better for it. Adapted from a novel by Chrystine Brouillet Good Neighbours takes place in a Montreal apartment building around the time of Quebec’s 1995 referendum when the decision for Quebec to secede was decided by a one per cent margin — and barely at that. Though the tale’s political context stays largely in the background it helps accentuate the social isolation felt by the three Anglo lead characters.

A waitress at a nearby Chinese restaurant Louise (Emily Hampshire) largely prefers the company of her cats but isn’t a complete crazy-cat type: She manages to maintain a wary bond with her neighbour Spencer (Scott Speedman) a wheelchair-bound widower with a caustic sense of humour. New to the building is Victor (Jay Baruchel) an elementary-school teacher who’s eager to make friends but couldn’t have picked a worse place to find them. What’s more a serial killer has been stalking their neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce which is portrayed here as is the case in Montreal for several months of the year as a wintry dead zone.

Mixing choice moments of droll comedy and a feeling of creeping dread Good Neighbours gradually builds in intensity until it feels free to reveal its true freakiness. Despite the tricky task of balancing all these elements and still making viewers care about characters — which Tierney makes seem more sociopathic with each passing second — this effort feels far more confident and coherent than either his relentlessly grim 2003 debut Twist or his 2009 teen comedy The Trotsky.

Even Baruchel’s umpteenth recent performance as a nebbishy misfit seems freshened up by Good Neighbours ’ pleasingly warped sensibility.