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The Dream Machine --- The Imagination of the World Wide Web
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Two adolescent girls lose their parents in an accident and are sent to live with their Aunt Ruth. The girls endure unthinkable punishment and cruelty at the hand of their aunt and three cousins. Hollywood just loves to take a story and exaggerate it. Nobody knows everything that happened in that home except those who were there. However, An American Crime made it all feel as if it did happen and stuck to the original story as I had heard it. In The Girl Next Door, a lot of story elements and character stories were exaggerated or just made up. The screenplay is rather poor and a lot of the dialogue just feels out of place. The only likable character is Meg. The rest of the characters are all either unlikable, irritating, or both. For this story to work, the audience needs to actually like the main character.
In An American Crime, we were treated to Catherine Keener, Ellen Page, and others. Unfortunately, the acting isn't so great in this movie. The acting is plain and dull all around. There aren't any special actors who stand out from the rest. A lot of the blame remains with the screenplay. The dialogue ranges from suitable to dreadful. There still isn't one single moment where these characters feel any more than actors.
The atmosphere is entirely different than you'd think. The story isn't following Meg, the girl who's tortured, but more a boy who witnesses it all and doesn't speak a word to anyone. Most of the film is taking place outside of the basement where Meg is tied up. There isn't anything particularly wrong with the visuals, especially keeping the low budget in mind.
No matter what version you look at this story from, it's very saddening. There is absolutely nothing happy or enjoyable about the plot. It's not an insult to the film, but a fact that holds true for both An American Crime and The Girl Next Door. However, this feels too much like Hollywood when it should be feeling real. Like I've told many people interested in checking out this film, see An American Crime instead. It's better in every way, shape, and form. The Girl Next Door isn't an easy watch, but has too many flaws to simply brush them off.