The Boy Next Door (2015)

dir. Rob Cohen

It’s almost impressive just how little of The Boy Next Door works. Recently separated Claire (a woefully underwhelming Jennifer Lopez) finds herself seduced, then stalked, by the eponymous young lad Noah (a hilariously terrible Ryan Guzman). Calling Ryan a “boy” is laughable considering the actor is quite obviously in his late twenties; scenes where he hangs out with Claire’s teenage son are more uncomfortable than his dalliance with Claire herself. The sex scenes are depressingly devoid of passion, and Ryan’s obsession is founded on so little of substance (the less said about the baffling moment where he gifts classics expert Claire a “first edition” of The Iliad, the better) that it’s all but impossible to accept the alleged intensity of the pair’s relationship. Claire’s resolute refusal to do anything sensible like ask for help or call the police gets more frustrating with every passing minute. In addition, this is hopefully the first and last movie to employ the “epipen used as a weapon” trope, or at least the only one where it’s supposed to be taken seriously. The Boy Next Door obviously thinks of itself as a beguiling erotic thriller, but it plays much more like a parody of one.

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