'The Neighbor in the Window' Review: Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Jenn Lyon steal show in Lifetime’s psychological drama
The movie's script draws from Kathie Truitt's book and her website states that the real-life events — becoming "the victim of a crazy neighbor lady that stalked them [her family] for 4 years" — forced her family to move to another country for their safety
Lifetime attempts to bring Kathie Truitt’s book 'False Victim' to life with the film ' The Neighbor in the Window' and within the first half-hour, viewers can get a glimpse as to why she titled her book so. The movie has tried to stay as close to the real-life events mentioned in the book but will it manage to hold the audience's attention? We'll get to that answer by the end of this article.
The thriller starts off in an uptown neighborhood in rainy Seattle where a family is looking at their potential new home. Scott (Geoff Gustafson), an engineer, moves to Seattle bringing along his realtor wife Karen Morgan (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and their six-year-old son Miles (Azriel Dalman). Karen immediately gets down to making it their dream home but soon finds her picket fence dreams marred when creepy neighbor Lisa Beasley (Jenn Lyon) takes an extraordinary interest in her.
'The Neighbor in the Window', directed by Menhaj Huda, deals with Karen's loosening grip on reality as she comes to terms with her neighbor from hell. Her words at the beginning when she moves into the house "maybe it was meant to be" become an ominous portent of the miserable fate that is set to befall her in the coming days.
Karen thinks Lisa and her have a 'connection' but she couldn't be more wrong. Their friendship begins when Karen tells her the tragic tale of losing her baby girl to SIDS and mysteriously Lisa admits to having lost a baby girl to SIDS as well. Her seemingly friendly neighbor then goes and buys the same red dress Karen had bought and acts as if she didn't know Karen was going to wear it on the same day.
This is just the beginning of the "coincidences" and soon she sees Lisa copying her in every way - from buying the same car to installing the same home security system and even telling Karen that she was thinking of becoming a real estate agent like her. Whenever Karen confronts Lisa about any of her stalkerish behavior she finds a new excuse to deflect her. Soon a spate of misfortunes befalls Karen which leaves both her and Scott convinced that their neighbor across the yard is up to no good.
The two women are then locked in a constant struggle of wits which finally culminates in a court battle. By the end of the film, Karen realizes that Lisa is a crazily twisted woman who will stop at nothing to be the center of attention and it's better not to prod her further.
The movie's script draws from Truitt's book and her website states the real-life events — becoming “the victim of a crazy neighbor lady that stalked them [her family] for 4 years” — forced her family to move to another country for their safety.
The first half of the film works well. The editing is tight as the narrative flows smoothly and for the most part, the viewer is able to share Karen's confusion and that nagging sense of doubt Scott expresses when he says, "Something's wrong with this whole thing." Karen's first inklings of doubt are blurred and set to bits and pieces of Lisa's conversations or actions as she struggles to piece together what's happening to her. Throughout this, the film grounds Karen's growing confusion by way of her family – Scott and their adorable son Miles – who seems concerned that his mommy is not "happy." But as Karen's obsession with Lisa's behavior takes control, her anxiety escalates affecting her life and work and here the director makes the unfortunate decision to let the narrative and the pace drop.
The latter half with the court battle just goes into a slump of sorts. The court battle between Karen and Lisa ends with a sad whimper spoiling the suspense that was built until then. It just seemed all too easy, because at one point Lisa literally has the jury falling for her false story and the next moment she fails as she forgot to teach her own daughter to lie at the stand making her whole charade fall apart in one minute. Not to mention, the supporting cast who literally vanish without their arcs having ended.
On the plus side, Lyon is brilliant as Lisa. Jamie-Lynn as Karen is both open and vulnerable, at times panicky and works through a myriad of emotions quite effortlessly. Meanwhile, Lyon as the stalker, maniacal, friendly neighbor, plays her role with aplomb.
This intense tale of stalking almost seems too horrific to be true, and yet, it does leave us with one little fear - what if it were to happen to us?
'The Neighbor in the Window' premieres on February 8 at 8 pm on Lifetime as part of the network's ‘Ripped from the Headlines’ slate of content, wherein they base the stories on real-life incidents.