Review: The Boy Next Door

2015/01/22 21:34:03 +00:00 | Heather Wixson

God help me, but I had a blast with The Boy Next Door, Rob Cohen’s wickedly dark, psycho-sexual thriller starring Jennifer Lopez as a disenchanted woman who learns a painful lesson in why it doesn’t pay to get caught up in an affair with a much younger man, as his obsession with her takes some dangerous turns that puts everyone around her in jeopardy. I’m usually someone who takes a bit more level-headed approach when it comes to film, but in terms of voyeuristic entertainment, The Boy Next Door is just plain ol’ fun and manages to be a lot more thoughtful than many of its provocative peers.

The story in The Boy Next Door is pretty straightforward; after learning that her husband (John Corbett) cheated on her with a co-worker, Claire Peterson (Lopez) is struggling to keep her family together and gain back some of her own identity as well. Enter Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman), the handsome young neighbor that just moved in to take care of his uncle, who’s dealing with medical issues. Noah, a repeating senior in high school (most likely this was used to define his character, making him "legal" and Lopez’s character less fallible), proves he’s handy to have around the house (in more ways than one, of course) and quickly becomes something of a permanent fixture in the Peterson home after befriending Claire’s son (Ian Nelson).

One night, Claire makes the mistake of sleeping with Noah after getting drunk. Even though she realizes the next morning that she’s made an error in judgment, her young suitor isn’t ready to end the love affair so quickly and his obsession with his neighbor continues to grow despite her repeated rejections of his affection. This causes Noah to fly off the rails. His desperation pushes him into some dangerous territory where he’ll stop at nothing to win Claire over, once and for all.

While it may be easy to dismiss The Boy Next Door as essentially another big screen Lifetime flick at first glance, there’s actually a bit more to it than that. The film starts off a bit schmaltzy, but once Guzman’s character shows up, Cohen and his story decide to let their hair down and have a little fun with their titillating and intoxicating tale of obsession gone wrong.

The chemistry between Lopez and Guzman is palpable throughout the film, and once she tries to let him down gently after their night of passion, we see Noah’s psychotic and destructive tendencies go into high gear, giving the movie a heightened sense of tension and dread. Guzman isn’t an actor I’m all that familiar with, but I’ll tell you this much: his verbal takedown of Kristin Chenoweth’s character once she realizes he’s up to no good is truly one of the more shockingly vicious tirades I’ve seen in a mainstream thriller in some time.

Certainly 2015 is gearing up to be a sexy time at the cinema with the release of Fifty Shades of Grey later this year, and The Boy Next Door kicks things off in fine form. It's certainly not a film that many hardened horror fans will enjoy, but for those of you looking for a little escapism on the big screen, the latest from J.Lo (and Blumhouse Productions—proving once again they’re not just making the same old movie over and over again) is sure to deliver the goods.

Plus, you’re guaranteed to see cookies in a whole new light once Guzman unabashedly declares his affinity for Lopez’s tasty treats in what will likely end up being one of my favorite guilty pleasure moments of the entire year.

Movie Score: 3.5/5

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.