The Boy Next Door
Rob Cohen directs Jennifer Lopez in an unintentionally amusing erotic thriller
Jennifer Lopez plays a classics teacher in The Boy Next Door. If she taught something else, we wouldn't be treated to the best joke in a film so far this year.
Hot neighbour Noah (the Step Up series' Ryan Guzman) seduces almost-divorced older woman Claire (Lopez) into a regrettable one-night stand. His gift of The Iliad – never mind that she probably has dozens of spare copies laying around – is a threat. 'It’s a first edition!' she gasps, as she takes hold of the improbable item and, voila, the audience knows where it is – in the preposterous, predictable land of Sleeping with the Enemy, the land where good-looking men, weird gifts and dangerous sex combine to create a stalker flick.
19-year-old Noah may be muscular, handsome and sweaty but he’s still a psychopath. This boy next door kills people. While this alone doesn't make this 'erotic' thriller a slice of soap, the melodramatic script by first-time screenwriter Barbara Curry is full of howlers. From the asinine plot to the moronic dialogue, you'll vibrate with laughter; Noah has knack for delivering double-entendres with a side order of menace, and when Claire needs to erase a sex video from Noah’s laptop she does it via ‘secure delete’. (Why not take the whole laptop?)
Director Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious) can, however, ratchet up the tension. The production design, cinematography and, of course, the makeup and hair, are solid. Lopez looks amazing and the ensemble - which includes Ian Nelson (playing Claire's teenage son), John Corbett (as Claire's cheating spouse), Kristin Chenoweth and Jack Wallace - works. At points it feels like a competent thriller built on deeply sketchy bones.
There’s a lot to cheer and boo in The Boy Next Door. And with one mention of the Iliad, it morphs into a shoddy Fifty Shades: a sexy thriller that’s a must-see for all the wrong reasons.
General release from Fri 27 Feb.