“The Boy Next Door” is a carbon copy stalker-thriller that audiences are well too familiar with.
This film begins with newly divorced high school English teacher Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez), who falls for none other than the young, muscular neighbor next door, Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman). As per usual, things take a dramatic turn when aforementioned boundaries are crossed, and Peterson must struggle to protect her career, family, and life.
The main character is extremely nice to someone, that person takes it too far, then things fall apart and he must fight to get things back in order. This is a trope used in thousands of B-rated horror movies; it did not really excite or surprise me. The literal plot of the movie was begrudgingly predictable, but still managed to fly in several directions. There was no focus, resulting in mass audience confusion, when the film should have held audiences on their toes. The plot confusion had a major impact a on the audience relation to the characters throughout the film, primarily due to the fact that many of them lacked appropriate character depth that would have added something to the film.
Many longtime fans of Lopez felt excitement in seeing her lead a thriller again, but this role did not measure up to her box office success of 1997. In “The Boy Next Door,” Lopez does a mediocre job of playing a frightened figure being stalked, but there is no character development though out the film. Guzmanays’ acting was acceptable throughout the film, but there were not enough foreboding scenes to help lead to the dramatic climax. Sandborn is too aggressive too soon, and does not spend enough time being the sweet “boy next door” that audiences would connect with. Rather than drop subtle hints of his psychotic personality, he almost immediately jumps to an obsessive stalker, which leaves the audience bored and disconnected.
This film gets a C-. While it satisfies the basic requirements of a thriller, the mediocre acting and confusing plot barely scraped the surface of what a thriller should contain. In comparison to recent similar films, this film has no major appeal or major conflict, besides the fact that Sandborn becomes Peterson’s student as a ploy to gain her attention. The film had infinite creative approaches that could have brought a real shock, that simply were not explored, which resulted in a below-average film that should have been straight-to-DVD.