The Boy Next Door (2015)

The Boy Next Door 2015.pngMaid and Mad Hot Ken

Director: Rob Cohen
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Kristen Chenoweth, John Corbett, Ian Nelson

It's difficult to escape the feeling that this wouldn't be in cinemas, if not for Jennifer Lopez's casting. Rob Cohen's latest film has all the makings of a TV movie, while managing to feel cheap throughout.

Claire Peterson (Lopez) is a newly divorced mother, and literature teacher. She falls for Noah (Guzman), the 19 year old who's moved in next door. After the two sleep together, Claire immediately feels regret, and tries to end it, which Noah doesn't take well.

Barbara Curry's script seems to have the intentions of an erotic thriller, akin to Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction. The problem lies in its awful quality, offering few thrills as it runs through a predictable plot, while lacking in anything resembling logical thought, replaced with awful clich├ęs and grown-worthy double entendres.

Clare loved to feel the soft curtains on her skin

But the biggest offence this film makes is during one key scene, showing what is blatantly an act of sexual violence. The problem is that no attempt is made to treat that scene for what it is, and even has the gall to put the blame on the victim. It's utterly frustrating to watch, and will leave a bad taste in your mouth.

To her credit, Jennifer Lopez isn't bad as the lead character. Unfortunately, she doesn't manage to be anything note-worthy either. Her "connection" with Noah relies on his abs being on display, and a shared love for literature. Speaking of which, Ryan Guzman plays Noah, the titular boy and the least convincing 19 year old. The character plays the antagonistic role, but comes off more as a cartoonish villain that one that's chilling. Not helping things is the lack of his point of view. We never get to understand his motivations, or why he sees himself as a hero at the end. Rob Cohen just lazily falls back on labelling him as "crazy" and Guzman's abs, rather than giving him a personality. At the end of the day, Guzman plays a psychotic Ken doll more than he does an actual character.

The combination of Cohen's bland direction, Curry's poor script and the mistreatment of one key scene, leaves The Boy Next Door as little more than a waste of time. What's left is a curious amalgamation of clunky stereotypes, that fails to even offer up campy thrills.