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Suburban Nightmare (2004)
-Review by Nic Brown- 

Director Jon Keeyes gives viewers a glimpse of married life for a different type of couple, a couple of serial killers, in “Suburban Nightmare”. The film starts with a flashback scene where Deborah (Brandy Little) and Charles (Trent Haaga) Rosenblad are romantically reminiscing about the firsts in their life, first kiss, first date, and of course first murder. The Rosenblads are not portrayed as being overtly insane; on the contrary, they seem like a normal family: husband, wife and even a young daughter (Hayden Tweedie). During the course of one evening at home with the couple, Keeyes skillfully brings their true natures to life.

The atrocities committed by the couple are numerous: kidnapping, rape, torture, cannibalism; these are all par for the course for Deborah and Charles. Their actions are made even more horrific by the casual way they are incorporated into the normal surroundings of their lives. If viewers look closely they will see pictures of victims mixed in with family photos in the couple’s bedroom. There are also human remains in the freezer and the couple’s truly horrific torture room complete with their human “pet” Kris (Kimberly Grant) that serve to show this is no ordinary family.

The couple’s life together is seen in flashbacks showing them at their most romantic. However, things have changed for the homicidally happy pair and the views of their past contrast sharply with the present. Deborah feels trapped and controlled by Chris, and Chris feels that Deborah has become reckless, a danger to both of them. Once again the story drifts to the eerily familiar as they argue. If the subjects weren’t debating which method is better (poison or head bashing), or whose turn it was to do the killing and the cleaning up, the viewer might think they were watching a couple battle it out in therapy. Of course, when serial killers argue, things can quickly get out of hand, leading to violence, which for them is just another form of expression.

Brandy Little is excellent as the deeply disturbed Deborah, whose character is the more openly violent of the two. She is especially disturbing when interacting with Kris, the “pet”. Kimberly Grant deserves special mention here, as her character is only seen a few times, but each time she steals the scene with her portrayal of a woman broken from her humanity by months of torture and unimaginable abuse.

Almost all of the film takes place within the couple’s home and the house itself becomes one of the characters. The horrors in the fridge, the weapons in every room, the photos throughout the house, and the torture room itself invite the viewer to pause the film and see for sure if that was a face in door of the fridge. Is that really a photo of a bloody, bound woman, on the dresser? What is on the walls and floor of the torture room? These little things help create an environment that would sicken most people, but is home to a couple like the Rosenblads.

Based on a story written by horror genre favorite Debbie Rochon, “Suburban Nightmare” is well made, entertaining, and disturbing. The viewer repeatedly sees scenes from everyday life twisted to fit the skewed world of psychotic killers as the couple moves towards the culmination of their life together. Will their love win out over the growing animosity? Or will their violent natures lead them to an end more final than divorce? That is for the viewer to find out, so check out “Suburban Nightmare”, and then keep it in the back of your mind the next time you think of accepting that dinner invitation from the new neighbors.

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