Covet Thy Neighbor (2014) – By Paul Busetti

Carter (Kirk McKenzie) is a drifter who has just arrived in a quiet town in the Pacific Northwest. He soon links up with Alex (Kurk Kasparian) and the two immediately hit it off. The two bond over their mutual marijuana interest and Alex quickly offers him a place to stay. Pretty soon, Alex is paying for their strip club trips, granting him access to his drugs, and showing him the inner workings of his business. All of this isn’t enough for Carter however, as he has his eyes set on Alex’s fiancé Kayla. Kayla is played by burlesque dancer Kat Wondergloom and unless I am terribly mistaken, she appears to wear a $4 blonde wig from the Halloween section of a Party City. Not exactly the femme fatale needed for Carter to jeopardize his new found friendship and entry into Alex’s booming drug business. On the surface, it appears that Alex’s overt generosity and the introduction of the temptress Kayla may be a ploy to draw the wandering Carter into a scheme as a fall guy for a possible imminent bust.

Director Ron Huffstutter does a good job of setting the table by introducing characters linked together but with murky agendas. The moments between Carter and Alex are very believable and it’s refreshing to see a drug dealer character portrayed as neither a paranoid violent type nor a mindless Tommy Chong clone. Alex is charismatic, capable, and an optimist. The exact type of person who is carving out a living in the burgeoning legalized marijuana frontier.

However, seemingly bored with its own storyline 15 minutes into the 34 minute running time, the film switches gears and introduces Joey (Mike Wills), an unhinged psychotic who preys on unsuspecting men who cruise the streets for male hustlers. Wills doesn’t bring much subtlety to the part. What could have been a terrifying harbinger of doom is instead played with 100mph twitchy lunacy. He is a wild eyed and gun happy caricature.

Covet Thy Neighbor never really settles on the kind of film it wants to be or plot it wants to follow. As soon as it begins to focus on one story, it tosses that out and sends the proceedings in another direction. The inciting event of a newcomer to a new town hooking up with a too good to be true friend is the subject of more than a few Patricia Highsmith stories and film adaptations. It has unlimited potential. It’s too bad it devolves into another indie film with amateur actors pointing fake guns at each other.

Covet Thy Neighbor benefits from solid editing & camerawork as well as good production value. It certainly seems like that the community of Ashland, Oregon was generous and helped the film get made. Hopefully Huffstutter will continue on there as the film does show promise.

Covet Thy Neighbor is available to watch online at http://covet.tunnel13films.com