Saturday 31 July 2021

Movie Review: The Boy Next Door (2015)

A woman-in-peril drama thriller with erotic undertones, The Boy Next Door creates a reasonable premise but unravels into poorly executed psycho-on-the-loose territory.

High school literature teacher Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) is separated from her cheating husband Garrett (John Corbett) and contemplating divorce. In the meantime they share custody of their teenaged son Kevin (Ian Nelson). Hunky 19-year-old Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman) moves into the house next door to help his ailing uncle, who is about to have surgery.

Noah, who lost his parents in a car accident, is polite and affable, helping Claire with small projects around the house and mentoring Kevin. Although Garrett is working hard to regain Claire's trust, she cannot help but be attracted to Noah, culminating in a night of lust. But when Claire proclaims their affair a mistake and seeks to immediately end it, Noah turns hostile.

A rather cheap re-imagining of Fatal Attraction, The Boy Next Door offers a not-bad opening 30 minutes. With Jennifer Lopez in decent form, Claire is a comfortably familiar woman juggling parenting with a career and debating whether her husband deserves a second chance, while Noah offers forbidden but irresistible young fruit. Director Rob Cohen uses the one smouldering sex scene to distance the movie away from typical made-for-television fare.

What happens next is an awkward transition undermining all the good work. Noah instantaneously flips from seducer, lover, mentor, and all-round interesting and literate guy into a manipulative raving lunatic. Barbara Curry's script never regains balance, and layers on far-fetched incidents to strain all credibility. In a demonstration of fury Noah bashes-in another student's head in the busy school hallway, but appears to suffer no meaningful repercussions. A car brake-failure incident is poorly staged from inception to conclusion, and Noah's smarts don't extend to deleting incriminating files from his laptop - or even using a password.

The climax is a flaming gong show suddenly introducing globs of gore while regurgitating every possible iteration of not-dead-yet fakery. Interesting when he moves in, The Boy Next Door does not know when to leave already.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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