The Brutal Horror Crime Thriller Based On A True Story You Can Stream Now

By Brian Myers | Published

The truth is often stranger than fiction, but in the case of the 2007 film The Girl Next Door, the story behind the movie is much more horrifying than what filmmakers elected to put onto the screen. Inspired by the murder of Sylvia Likens, The Girl Next Door is a riveting entry that is as tragic as it is horrifying.

The Girl Next Door

The Girl Next Door opens with middle-aged David Moran witnessing a hit-and-run accident in New York City. The incident causes him to recall events from a summer decades before. It was 1958, and teenage David was becoming acquainted with the new girl in the neighborhood, Meg Loughlin.

Meg and her sister Susan had recently lost their parents in a car accident. The girls are sent to live with their aunt, Ruth Chandler, and cousins Donny, Ralphie, and Willie.

A Brutal Environment

The Girl Next Door introduces Meg and Susan to an environment with no real adult supervision. Their aunt allows her boys and their friends to do most anything they desire, even giving them beer and allowing them to smoke cigarettes.

Ruth is cruel to Meg and constantly dresses her down in front of her cousins and their friends. When Ralphie tries to force himself on his cousin, Meg strikes him in self-defense.

An enraged Ruth takes her anger out on Meg, however, instead of focusing on her attacker. She beats Susan and makes Meg watch as punishment, leading Meg to go to the police to file a report for abuse.

Full-Blown Torture

The Girl Next Door

Of course, the police do nothing and Ruth’s abuse escalates into full-blown torture. The last half of The Girl Next Door involves Ruth keeping Meg captive in the basement and encouraging her boys and their friends to take turns beating and sexually assaulting her.

David, who had developed feelings for Meg prior to her confinement, does his best to alert authorities to Ruth’s crimes but finds that the system is about to fail Meg once again.

Based On A Terrible True Story

The Girl Next Door

The Girl Next Door is based on the brutal torture and murder of 16-year-old Sylvia Likens in 1965. While the film depicts Meg and her sister as orphans taken in by an aunt, Sylvia’s parents were alive and well, having left her and her sister in the care of a neighborhood woman while they traveled for work.

When the payments for her and her sister’s care began to arrive later than promised, their caregiver, Gertrude Baniszewski, began to subject Sylvia to the severe physical abuse that eventually claimed her life.

Tough To Watch

The Girl Next Door

The film adaptation of Sylvia Likens’s Torture and Murder is brilliantly shot but extremely difficult to watch at times.

The filmmakers do a great job depicting the brutality without taking the visuals to the levels of Hostel or Saw. Though the torture happens on the screen, much of the graphic details are left to the imagination. However, the filmmakers still manage to get the dread and fear across to audiences, a mark of great filmmaking.

Streaming The Girl Next Door

The Girl Next Door


The Girl Next Door also does a wonderful job of adapting real events to the screen and turning them into interesting (and depressing) storytelling.

The film’s actors are relative unknowns, save for the adult David Moran, portrayed by William Atherton (Ghostbusters), but all make for a believable set of characters.

The Girl Next Door is a depressing film, and certainly not for the faint-hearted. Its style falls short of exploitation and, thankfully, tells a terrible story in the best possible way.

You can stream The Girl Next Door for free with Freevee and Tubi or rent it On Demand with Vudu, Google Play, AppleTV, and Prime.