<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Rob Cohen. Starring Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Ian Nelson, John Corbett, Kristin Chenoweth, Lexi Atkins, Hill Harper
A totally futile attempt at a high-school version of Fatal Attraction, The Boy Next Door has zero acting talents and absolutely no reason to be on the big screen.
Blumhouse Productions made the films Ouija and Jessabelle, both ‘scary’ movies and not so good films. The reason I mention this is that I noticed how the house in The Boy Next Door resembled the house in Ouija. And then I remembered that the same company produced the two films. A company that admittedly makes low budget niche films.
Anyway, so Jennifer Lopez is back acting or doing something that isn’t really acting actually. As Claire Peterson, she’s the mother of a teenage boy whose dad cheated on her nine months ago and they’re separated though he visits often. The old and infirm man next door has his orphaned nephew Noah (Ryan Guzman) over to take care of him. But Noah is quite happy to help his neighbour Mrs Peterson out too. She is still hoping to reconcile with her husband but that doesn’t stop her from ogling at young Noah’s tight body, which leads to one night’s indiscretion. But for him it’s so much more.
The problem here lies in the fact that Noah looks like a cute guy who actually should be the ‘hero’ and in a regular teeny flick where too much acting isn’t required he would be. Unfortunately in a film that tries to get creepiness, thrills and passion in there, Ryan Guzman’s acting chops or lack thereof shine through. It’s the least scary film you’ll ever see and it shouldn’t be. Considering he’s stalking her and well she’s sorta taking it.
And then there’s a lack of belief in the fact that Claire Peterson would allow him to get away with some of the awful things he does. She never confides in her husband or tells the police. Only very late does she tell her friend, the school’s vice-principal Vicky Lansin (Kristin Chenoweth), which is when it becomes interesting but alas they cut short even that promising build up. The finale is just rushed.
Jennifer Lopez is bland in her performance. In fact, the entire cast with the exception of Kristin Chenoweth look like zombies. There’s no angst or emotion at all. Just one or two lines like “I like your mom’s cookies,” and “Go fuck yourself.”
“I’d much rather be fucking you,” that give you a bit of chuckle.
As for the sex scenes they are cut here in India. Interesting to note in the first scene between Guzman and Lopez is that she keeps saying ‘No’ to him but he doesn’t stop until the point that she gives in. Some may call this pressure and some may even say it promotes the notion that ‘No’ doesn’t always mean ‘No’.
The film does like to show you lots of cleavage though. Maybe it’s a consolation prize. But The Boy Next Door is simply a poorly made movie that has unconvincing actors who fail to thrill or move you.
PS: There seem to be some major issues in parts of the film where you wonder why certain scenes are even in there. Like the one where Claire sniffs a half eaten cookie. We were never shown anyone eating it. Was it the boy? Clearly a goof here.