Directed by Mark Pellington
Starring Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins, and Joan Cusack
Emotions drive profits. That’s a fact. Negative emotions are some of the most profitable. The fear you have of your neighbors transforms itself into anger and hate. It’s what made 24/7 news stations so profitable — driving that anger and hate towards our neighbors, who are so obviously to blame for what’s wrong in the world. It’s a scary thought when you think about it and that’s what makes Arlington Road such a great horror movie.
Jeff Bridges plays Michael Faraday, a university professor who forces his students to reexamine famous cases of domestic terrorism. Like Oliver Stone and JFK, this guy doesn’t feel the “lone-shooter” explanation digs far enough into what’s actually behind all of these tragic explosions. He recently lost his wife, an FBI agent who was killed in a raid-gone-wrong due to improper protocol and is trying to piece his life back together as a single father. His emotional state is shaky to say the least, but he starts to see some figment of a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of friendly new neighbors who have a son the same age as his. Like his suspicions in the classroom, he quickly starts to feel there’s more underneath the surface of the perfect Oliver and Cheryl Lang, played by Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack.
Oliver is a structural engineer, but we quickly learn he’s dishonest about his past. For starters, he lies about his education and his name. How far the lies go drives Faraday into a spiral of paranoia. Imagine if you discovered your neighbor was behind the Oklahoma City bombing. The more the movie digs into the conspiracy, the more you want to question how much we really know about real-life world events. Who really killed JFK? Sure, many events are exactly as they seem, but we’ve also learned enough about cover ups to at least be suspicious about who’s pulling the strings. All you have to do is look at Dustin Hoffman’s expression in the photos detailing the aftermath of an explosion caused by his radical-leftist amateur bomb makers. It didn’t happen in a movie, it happened in Greenwich Village.
"Susie Q" is now streaming Watch on Amazon Prime Video here
Arlington Road was originally presented as a drama and a thriller, but what is a horror movie if not a drama about a scary subject? What Faraday discovers is scary and what happens to him is even scarier. The reality is that your neighbors are probably boring people, but if you watch enough news then you know that something is boiling in the world right now. News networks make money by selling anxiety, because it’s scary and we all love a good scare. I prefer it from a movie.