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Boy Next Door, The

D: Rob Cohen / 91m

Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, John Corbett, Ian Nelson, Kristin Chenoweth, Lexi Atkins, Hill Harper, Jack Wallace

Claire Peterson (Lopez) teaches classic literature at her local high school. She’s separated from her husband, Garrett (Corbett), due to his having had an affair, and lives with their son, Kevin (Nelson). When high school senior Noah Sandborn (Guzman) moves in to look after his ailing uncle (Wallace) next door, his good looks and chiseled physique prove distracting to Claire, and she finds herself becoming attracted to him. With Garrett making every effort to win back Claire’s trust, he and Kevin go off fishing for the weekend. Noah creates an excuse for Claire to come and see him, and when she does, he seizes his chance and they have sex.

The next morning, Claire realises she shouldn’t have slept with Noah and tells him it was a mistake. Noah becomes angry, and his behaviour reveals a darker, more sinister side, one that sees Claire at risk of losing her family, her job, and possibly, her life. As she tries desperately to keep their one night stand a secret, Noah insists they should be together, and warns Claire that if she doesn’t agree to be with him, he’ll let Kevin or Garrett watch the video he made of them having sex. But when the brakes on Garrett’s car fail while he and Kevin are in it, Claire realises that Noah will stop at nothing in his attempts to have her, and that she needs to do something to protect both her and her family.

Boy Next Door, The - scene

It’s hard to say which is the worst thing about The Boy Next Door: it’s either Rob Cohen’s tired, uninspired direction, or the unappealing, highly derivative script by Barbara Curry, or even the various below-par performances. There’s nothing here to recommend the movie to an audience, and very, very little that warrants the kind of attention lavished on it by the producers (who include Lopez herself), so amateurish in execution is the final product. This isn’t even a movie-by-the-numbers; instead it’s just an absurd, lazy, painfully bad B-movie given spurious credibility by the involvement of Lopez, and the inclusion of a sex scene that is about as erotic as peeling potatoes.

Why this movie was made will remain a mystery that not even Scooby-Doo could solve, but given the talent involved, it should have had at least a thin veneer of respectability to help make it more palatable, but it’s clear that no one thought that this was relevant or necessary. Lopez looks embarrassed throughout, Guzman is there to get his shirt off as often as possible, while everyone else waits for their scenes to be over so they can go and do something more challenging (it’s a career low point for everyone concerned). If any proper evidence was needed as to the movie’s ridiculous attempts at drama, it would be the aftermath of a scene where Noah beats up a bully, and fractures his skull in the process: the police are never involved, and he further threatens the school’s vice principal without any reprisals there either. Like Noah, the movie is mad, bad, and dangerous to know.

Rating: 2/10 – so bad it’s truly difficult to watch without wondering if something this terrible shouldn’t have a laughter track, The Boy Next Door might be aspiring to trash movie status, but it’s hard to tell thanks to how terrible it is; a daunting prospect even at ninety-one minutes, only Randy Edelman and Nathan Barr’s cliché-lite score makes any real impression, but even then you’ll have forgotten it within a couple of hours.