Shirin moves to a new house together with her boyfriend Fredrik and his young son, Lucas. Their new home is a vertically divided semi-detached house, where the other side is uninhabited and in a slight state of disrepair. As Fredrik’s job requires a bit of travelling, Shirin must stay at their new home with her stepson, who misses his mother (who died of cancer). When the boy makes a new friend who he claims is living next doors in the uninhabited part of the building, Shirin starts to realize that this isn’t all child’s play.
Horror Ghouls have had their first theatrical screening this year, and it’s a movie from our neighbour country (Sweden), called Andra Sidan (which translates to “The Other Side”, but the english title is The Evil Next Door). It’s a ghost/haunted house horror flick, by the director duo Tord Danielsson and Oskar Mellander. It’s also their debut feature film.
Ghosts and haunted houses are among the most popular themes in horror, which also makes it one of the hardest genres to make anything that feels fresh and new to a viewer who has browsed through tons of movies like this. There’s bound to be some usage of cliché’s, and similar plot points and concepts. This doesn’t mean that new horror movies with said themes need to constantly reinvent the wheel, however, and sometimes you simply use what works despite that it’s been used before. What I’m trying to say, is that Andra Sidan is pretty much a bag filled with more of the same old tricks we’ve seen a lot of times before, but fortunately it belongs to the bunch that pulls it off pretty well. It’s quite obvious that the directors have been getting a lot of inspiration from other supernatural movies, and there’s imprints of James Wan all over the place.
There are some nice highlights here (including an attic that is creepy as hell). The house actually does look darn ominous, with its “other side” giving off bad vibes right from the start simply by how it looks. There’s good sound work, and nothing bad to point out about the acting, either, as the actors depict their roles and conflicting emotions in a believable and realistic way. Also, it was fun to see a small and partly obscured The Exorcist reference in the latter part of the movie. Regarding the claim that it’s “inspired by real events”, there is very little information to find about what the source of inspiration actually stems from, which could have been interesting to know. While “inspired by” very rarely means that a movie portrays something close to an actual event (as opposed to when movies say they’re “based on”), it would be nice to know what the source of said inspiration is.
The movie does leave a few questions unanswered, however, which leaves a certain hope for a possible prequel-sequel. Getting and in-depth version of what actually happened on that other side of the house, could be an interesting concept for a prequel story. In fact, we really hope they do make a prequel because there’s a strong foundation to make something really good here.
Overall, Andra Sidan is a dish we’ve tasted a lot of times before, but it’s still a strong addition to the haunted house/supernatural horror genre. Brooding, creepy atmosphere and well-aimed scares makes this a competent and satisfactory entry which I hope won’t be the last we see from the directors.
Directors: Tord Danielsson, Oskar Mellander
Country & year: Sweden, 2020
Actors: Jakob Fahlstedt, Janna Granström, Dilan Gwyn, Karin Holmberg, Troy James, Niklas Jarneheim, Henrik Norlén, Sovi Rydén, Linus Wahlgren