What do you need to craft the perfect modern prog-rock album? Well, you throw in a dash of manslaughter, some great makeup effects, one of the best neurotic performances in recent memory from Jonah Ray Rodrigues, and never allowing your dreams to die, you can make that album. It turns out, you’ll also get the movie Destroy All Neighbors.

The story follows William Brown (Jonah Ray Rodrigues), who lives in a questionable apartment building and sees a new neighbor, Vlad (Alex Winter, but unrecognizable under effects makeup), move in next door. Vlad upends William’s entire life overnight, playing loud music, blasting his TV, grunting like that guy you hate at Planet Fitness on the bench press, and just generally being grotesque. After William takes the “coward’s way” to tell him to turn it down, Vlad spits on William’s door. The whole mess is surrounded by William and his girlfriend, Emily (played by Kiran Deol), having issues with William not standing up for himself and focusing too much on his prog rock album.

The whole thing breaks when William builds up the strength to finally tell Vlad to turn the goddamn music down. Except, he accidentally kills him, and then decapitates him. The splatter-shenanigans only pile up from there as William is tormented by Vlad. As bodies pile up trying to cover the whole thing up, William is left with one goal: finishing the album.

Destroy All Neighbors is uproariously hilarious. If you love things silly and slapstick, it doesn’t get much better than this. Between Alex Winter as Vlad, absolutely hamming it up, or Kumail Nanjiani making a cameo and trading “f*ck yous” with William, the laughs are plentiful. There’s also just something so hilarious about all the various ways the corpses come back to life to help William throughout the movie. Vlad comes back in pieces after William tries cutting his body up. Others come back with knives, pocket knives, scissors, and other sharp household implements on their back.

What really sets Destroy All Neighbors apart from the horror-comedy crowd, though, is the feeling of self-discovery through it. William is obviously fazed by the “manslaughtering” going on, but he never feels like he forgets his purpose. There’s a prog rock dream of every creative person stitched into the film. It’s that undying feeling to create and get your feelings out in some sort of medium that really sells Destroy All Neighbors.

It helps that the effects are top-notch and up there with the best that the horror genre can offer, though.

The ending of the film is my favorite part. The final confrontation between Vlad and William isn’t a final confrontation at all. It’s a commentary on shutting out the negativity, second-guessing art, and creating art. I won’t spoil it, but as a creative, it’s among the most powerful messages someone or something can tell you. Just ignore it. What if no one listens/reads/watches? The right ones will.

The ending might not be for everyone; but it’s got plenty of commentary on how the creative process is co-opted and stolen by those in power at the corporate/popular level. For all the Williams in the world; there are plenty of Scotty (William’s boss) and Caleb Bang Jansens (the guy who gets William fired) who steal the credit.

Between the insanity and awesome special effects, there’s magic here with Destroy All Neighbors that might get lost on people just looking for a movie that feels like Dead Alive. It’s got a lot of that, but so much more. This gonzo, all-out, stand-up and shout, horror comedy might be coming out in January, but it’s already in the running for one of the best of the year.

Destroy All Neighbors releases on Shudder on January 12th, 2024.

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