The Boy Next Door

A high school teacher going through a rough patch in life encounters the new addition to her neighbourhood. But she soon realises that one stupid, desperate mistake may well cost her everything she’s ever worked for.

The_Boy_Next_Door_2015Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) is in a bad place, having recently separated from her cheating husband Garret (John Corbett). Her family is not coping well with the situation, so when her neighbour’s attractive nephew moves in next door, she gladly welcomes the company and help around the house – until she gives in to her frustration and attraction. And while she is quick to realise her mistake, Noah (Ryan Guzman) grows more and more obsessive…

Thrilling, but predictable

I suppose nobody was surprised when ‘the transgression’ happened, considering the great focus on the character’s physique throughout the movie, and the fact that Noah turned into a psycho stalker is not exactly the biggest shocker, either. But maybe that’s the movie’s allure all the same: you know what’s going to happen, but you don’t know all the juicy little details, and you don’t know the extent that the obsession can take. In fact, some of the clichés and the general awkwardness building up to that night add a somewhat humorous note to it, though it seems to be meant seriously at least. But all of a sudden, Claire’s life is at stake: her job, her friends, her family, nobody seems safe from the equally sweet and violent young man. And that’s when things soon become interesting…

Understandable, but relatively flat

The characters in the film are normal people: a normal mother, who is a normal teacher and clearly currently frustrated with her life and sexuality; a teenage son who is an outsider at school, and therefore easily manipulated by his new role model; a husband trying to get back to his wife; and so on. It is a shame, then, that the characters do not get much more depth than that, and in the end they end up being more or less stock characters with a tiny hint of individual personality. While the interactions are largely believable, they can also be incredibly frustrating, and some more insight into Noah might well have benefited the movie (or, on the other hand, it could have ruined it; the line in this case is quite a thin one). And although it is great that Claire is all emancipated and wants to solve her problems on her own, the stubborn refusal to talk to anyone properly because of the implications it could have on her life are annoying. She definitely picks up towards the end, though, and just as the movie becomes more unpredictable, she grows out of her passive-aggressive ways and becomes empowered once again.

A suspenseful experience

Despite all the predictability, I certainly did not expect the batshit crazy turn that the movie took all of a sudden, or the extent of Noah’s obsession, and that’s when it got the most intriguing, the most suspenseful – and yes, some appropriately timed jump scares add to it as well. Yes, there are a lot of areas in which the movie could have been improved, and more psychological depth would definitely have been great. As it is, though, it was definitely an enjoyable experience – erotic, thrilling and suspenseful.

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