The Boy Next Door (Movie Review)

At the age of forty-five, when most Hollywood Actresses or singers are considered over the hill, powerhouse Jennifer Lopez (The Wedding Planner 2001, The Back-up Plan 2010) continues to share her craft with the world. Her latest Erotic Thriller movie release, The Boy Next Door, is just another example of her diverse talent. Released on  January 23rd, 2015 in the United States, and on Blu-ray/DVD on  April 28th, 2015 by Universal Pictures, The Boy Next Door was filmed in Placerita Canyon, Newhall, California. The events of the film are set in modern day, and focuses on a somewhat controversial topic of an older woman and a much younger man. Written by Barbara Curry as her debut feature film, and directed by Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious 2001, xXx 2002), Lopez stars as main antagonist Claire Peterson, and up and coming Ryan Guzman (Step Up Revolution 2012, Step Up: All In 2014) as protagonist Noah Sandborn. Despite not being well received by critics, it was successful at the box office, making over twelve times its budget.

Still from The Boy Next Door
Still from The Boy Next Door

Claire and husband Garrett (John Corbett: Northern Exposure TV series, Sex in the City TV series) separated nine months after Garrett was unfaithful. Their anaphylactic son Kevin (Ian Nelson: Teen Wolf  TV series, Criminal Minds TV series) lives with Claire and has no idea what his father had done. Claire is a dedicated English Teacher who teaches the Classics, which she is most passionate about. Her work colleague and best friend Vicky Lansing (Kirsten Chenoweth: Pushing Daisies TV series, Glee TV series), thinks it is time for Claire to move on and organizes a double date with her boyfriend Ethan (Travis Schuldt: Scrubs TV series, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia TV series), and disagreeable Benny (Bailey Chase: Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, Watch Over Me TV series). The date does not go well and Claire realizes she is not ready to move forward just yet.

Her next door neighbor is an invalid, and his seventeen year old nephew, Noah (Guzman), has been orphaned and comes to take care of his uncle. Claire finds this endearing and initially considers Noah to be a possible friend for Kevin, who experiences trouble with bullies. As the days go on, at some point Claire cannot ignore her attraction to Noah. She pushes aside these feelings, but after a number of chance encounters, Noah manages to seduce the more experienced Claire. Immediately after, Claire is beset with guilt, and shame, desperate to ensure that nobody finds out, and that it never happens again. Unfortunately, Noah does not feel the same way. When he does not get his way with Claire, he becomes focused on destroying her, or those close to her, and no one will be spared his wrath. It seems that Claire cannot escape Noah at home or at work, and the obsession he feels for her means he ends up also in her class at school.

Scene by scene, Noah’s behavior escalates, and Claire’s life begins unravelling at the seams, hurtling both Noah and Claire towards an explosive end. The suspense and tension build as Claire finds herself having to protect her precious career, her failed marriage, and the relationship with her son. Will she have to fight for their lives too? The Boy Next Door has an underlying theme of the dangers of infidelity in different forms, and how it can get you killed. It has fast-paced action, a twisting storyline, and plenty of heart-pounding moments.

Perhaps taking inspiration from films such as Swimfan (2002) and Obsessed (2009), or perhaps former criminal lawyer turned Screenwriter Barbara Curry tossed up a couple of ideas initially for Claire’s story. The Boy Next Door evolved from an idea Curry had of a dream home and a bad boy living nearby who adversely affected the behavior of the main character’s son. The character of Noah was originally twelve years old, but to make it more realistic and palatable his age was raised to seventeen. With a small budget, The Boy Next Door was shot in just twenty-three days, with Lopez scoring a MTV Movie Award in the Best Scared as S**t Performance category.

While it is not unique in terms of its story concept or structure, it does have a strong plot that is well acted by a diverse cast. The cinematography by Dave McFarland (In Her Place 2015, Blowtorch 2015) is faultless, and combines with minimal, but more than adequate, special effects. The wardrobe department maximized Lopez’s iconic curves, and while in her mid 40’s with an impressive multi media career, still looks fantastic. Corbett does an amazing job as cheating husband Garratt, and an appearance by CSI:NY actor Hill Harper as Principal Edward Warren adds another familiar face. An edge of the seat Thriller, Cryptic Rock gives The Boy Next Door 4 out of 5 stars.

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

 

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