The Boy Next Door, 2015
Directed by Rob Cohen
Starring Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Ian Nelson, John Corbett, Kristin Chenoweth
A newly divorced woman falls for a younger man who has recently moved in across the street from her, but their torrid affair soon takes a dangerous turn.
Those disappointed that Jupiter Ascending and Fifty Shades of Grey didn’t provide them with endless amounts of unintentional comedy, then The Boy Next Door is here to save the day. With an unmissable stench of “straight to video”, The Boy Next Door is an “erotic thriller” with ludicrous plot holes, laughably bad dialogue and a tremendously awful villainous performance. In short, it’s terrible.
One hopes that Jennifer Lopez was not planning on this to be the movie that revives her career, but it was clearly a project she thought had legs. She’s not only a producer on the movie, but she appears to be acting her arse off in order to sell this role of a newly divorced mother who sleeps with the 20-year old boy next door Noah, only to discover he’s a psychopath. Not only that, but she also suffers from a crippling condition in which she doesn’t seem to know who or what the police are.
But this condition does not only affect Lopez. It seems everyone in this movie is clueless about the existence of law enforcement because at no point are the cops called when they could have been. This, among other things, is why The Boy Next Door fails so badly. First time writer Barbara Curry seemingly didn’t think her story through enough to iron out any kinks. In one scene, the dangerous Noah attacks a kid at school so violently that he apparently fractures his skull and, quote, “nearly killed him”. Are the police called to investigate this attack that was witnessed by the entire school, including the vice principal who was hit in the process? No. He’s just expelled and life goes on. In another sequence, Lopez begins to think that Noah sabotaged her ex-husband’s car in order to kill him and finds evidence to prove it in amongst voyeuristic photos taken of her while she was sleeping. Does she take this information to the police so they can protect her and prosecute him? No. She instead plays detective herself (while oddly dressed like Velma from Scooby Doo) and tries to solve the mystery. Jinkies.
But perhaps the biggest failing of the movie is the casting of Step Up‘s Ryan Guzman as the leading villain. It’s a terrible decision for two reasons. Firstly, he’s a man pushing thirty playing a ‘the young boy next door’ in the least convincing of fashions, which then fully undermines the moral issues of Lopez sleeping with him because they look more or less the same age. Secondly, Guzman appears to think that this role will be his Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight and is therefore trying his hardest to play “evil”. But, by playing up to being “evil”, he just ends up overacting to a hilarious degree. This is not Jeremy Irons in Dungeons & Dragons levels of chewing the scenery, this is just flat out bad acting. Tremendously terrible bad acting, in fact.
Worst of all, The Boy Next Door isn’t in on the joke. Everyone on set, in front of and behind the camera, is taking this all very seriously which just makes the whole thing seem even more farcical. If you look at a movie like The Guest for example, it has a light feeling amongst the serious horror and action because it embraces the madness of its story and laughs at itself along with the audience. The Boy Next Door however thinks its a powerful erotic thriller with gripping performances and direction which means the audience is sadly laughing at it. Had The Boy Next Door accepted its flaws and ran with them, it could at least be argued for “so bad it’s good”.
As an aside, Noah buys Claire a “first edition” copy of The Iliad, a book over a thousand years old that wouldn’t have a “first edition”.
Stupidly dumb but hilariously silly, The Boy Next Door is a bad movie with stunning plot holes, crummy dialogue and a superbly ridiculous performance from Ryan Guzman. Everyone appears to be trying, but that’s part of the problem. It’s unlikely to be the bounce back movie Jennifer Lopez had hoped for and it certainly isn’t the best audition tape for Guzman to convince people he’s more than just a dancer. If there is any consolation, it’s probably guaranteed to pick up some Razzies next year.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.