UK Release Date: 27th February 2015
Runtime: 91 minutes
Director: Rob Cohen
Writer: Barbara Curry
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Kristin Chenoweth, Ian Nelson, John Corbett, Travis Schuldt
Synopsis: When she sleeps with the attractive next door neighbour after an evening of loneliness, a teacher finds herself being obsessively stalked.
About once or twice a year, a film enters UK cinemas that has absolutely no business being there. The Boy Next Door is, in just about every way, a televisual thriller with little to recommend it for big screen treatment. It’s trash, but fortunately, it’s also delightfully entertaining trash.
Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) teaches English Literature at a school alongside her friend and superior Vicky (Kristin Chenoweth). When attractive newcomer Noah (Ryan Guzman) moves in next door, he immediately takes a shine to Claire, who recently separated from her husband Garrett (John Corbett). After befriending Claire’s son Kevin (Ian Nelson), Noah spends the night with Claire and refuses to accept that it was a one-off.
There’s something beautifully hokey about The Boy Next Door. It’s a film without pretension and with a great sense of fun that harks back to erotic thrillers of the 1990s. It never shies away from the farcical nature of its plotting and has a pleasingly demonic final act.
| "You see the proof of our love as a threat to this life. But I see it as a promise of a better one."
The art of subtlety is certainly lost on director Rob Cohen and writer Barbara Curry. Nuance is in short supply, particularly in the case of some incredibly ripe innuendo that somehow seems to pass all of the characters by. By the time the film gets to some rather inevitable voyeurism and eyeball symbolism in the third act, it really is like The Boy Next Door wants to bludgeon its audience to death rather than entertain them.
Ryan Guzman clearly relishes the opportunity to play a psychopath, bringing a joyous sense of relish to his sneering, foul-mouthed evil. It all goes a bit ham sandwich in the third act, but Guzman is engaging and detestable throughout, emerging far superior to Jennifer Lopez, who looks as if she would rather be starring in literally anything else.
There’s a bizarre tonal tug-of-war going on with the film too. The Boy Next Door veers wildly from borderline comedic to properly nasty, with Kristin Chenoweth’s character bearing the brunt of some truly maniacal evil from Guzman. The film’s darker moments are clearly at odds with the cheerily ramshackle plotting and cheeseball dialogue that makes up the rest of the story and these moments often feel rather out of place.
| "I love your mother’s cookies."
But, when push comes to shove, The Boy Next Door thrives on its own ridiculousness and emerges as a wonderfully entertaining thriller. It won’t win awards, and nor should it, but it’s a great way to spend two hours in the company of some cheesy, cheap thrills.
Pop or Poop?
Ryan Guzman’s portrait of pure evil is the highlight of this ramshackle thriller. Thanks to his sneering maniac, The Boy Next Door never quite collapses under the weight of its narrative stupidity.
Lopez phones it in and there’s some bizarre darkness at the heart of proceedings, but the whole thing flies by in a whirlwind of brainless fun.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.