Movie Review: “The Boy Next Door” – Not Thrilling Nor Erotic

Written by Angela February 13, 2015

boy1When a single sentence contains the words “Jennifer Lopez” and “erotic thriller,” it should come as no surprise that the phrase “instant commercial success” will be the subject of the sentence to follow. In this respect, Rob Cohen’s “The Boy Next Door” has all the makings of a blockbuster hit for the horny masses. Unlike JLo’s previous films, music videos or photo shoots, what we have here is a premise that does away with the bullshit pretext of “artistry” or “self-expression.” Many directors have substantially pulled-off the erotic thriller; take “Fatal Attraction,” for instance. But for all intents and purposes, this is a project solely conceived for movie-goers to the enter the theatre for the thrill of gazing at Jennifer Lopez erotically for 146 minutes, technical quality of the enclosing movie be damned. Such an unabashed approach to sexploitation isn’t necessarily a bad thing—hell, Cohen and Lopez may even admirable for how they brush aside the nonsensical pretension that theirs is a story worth telling. “The Boy Next Door’s” true crime, then, has nothing to do with the camp sleaziness it embodies. This movie sucks because for all its massive build up, it ends up providing fuck all in its ending pay off.

The monumentally original and groundbreaking plot has star-crossed lovers Claire Peterson (Sweet n’ Lopez) and Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman) finding themselves entangled in one night of the most painstakingly simulated passion I’ve ever had the displeasure of witnessing. This is problematic to Claire because she is Noah’s high school English teacher and next door neighbour. This is not problematic to Noah because she is his high school English teacher and next door neighbour. And of course, because his high school English teacher has an uncanny resemblance to a certain powerhouse Latina pop star whose derrier we all know and love, he refuses to simply leave the tryst in the past.

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To remind Claire of her “moment of weakness,” Noah skulks about her life propelling childish euphemisms about cookies and wetness into everyday conversation, all the while glaring holes into her skull as a means of telepathically transmitting a gleefully sinister “nudge nudge, wink wink.” More cardboard acting ensues when Claire insists Noah put a stop to his antics on the grounds that she is an adult and was wrong to lead him, a child who happens to have the physique of an underwear model, on. Naturally, this spurs Noah into a psychotic rage and Claire, the adult that she is, sidles up to her estranged and openly cheating husband as a means of protection, all the while continuing to tell no one about her transgression even after Noah gets violent with the people she cares about.

“We can’t! It’s….wrong!”

There can be some moments, albeit fleeting, wherein the film makes a mild attempt at highlighting the plot’s more moralistic elements. One of the key components of your basic erotic thriller is the cautionary trope which imparts onto the audience that no matter who you are or where you come from, actions will never fail to have consequences. In other words, one minute in heaven could potentially lead to a lifetime in hell, so everyone, even J-Lizzle, should take the utmost care in choosing with whom to ride the skin bus into tuna town, so to speak. On the other hand, the plot merely travels down this bumpy road because it lazily mirrors the exact blueprints of better erotic thrillers made before it.

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Aside from enhancing the Claire character with an always impressive English degree, “The Boy Next Door” is unstimulating to say the least. Ryan Guzman looks like a thirty-year old and delivers lines like he just learned how to read. As for the erotic thrills, a pile of road slush has more sexual tension than what’s depicted on screen. This is a film that promises a good time, but once it has your cash leaves you alone in the dark to wonder where your life went wrong as you clean the leftover popcorn out of your crotch. There are a few other things in life that operate on the same business model. My humble advice is to avoid them all as best you can.

My Rating: 2/10

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About Angela

Angela McInnes is an English major and up-and-coming horror film aficionado. To her, happiness is a bottle of rum and a creature-feature on a Saturday night.

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