The Boy Next Door stars Jennifer Lopez as Claire Peterson, a high school teacher who is separated from her cheating, showboating husband (John Corbett of Parenthood and United States of Tara).

Under what we can only explain as stress and loneliness, Claire finds herself wrapped up (pun intended) in an affair with Noah (Ryan Guzman, star of Step Up), the nephew of the old man who lives next door. We soon realize that Noah isn’t just the hot boy next door, but a hot tempered maniac.

Lopez has come a long way in her career since Enough (2002) with lead roles in films like Maid In Manhattan, Monster-In-Law, An Unfinished Life, and Ice Age: Continental Drift. However, The Boy Next Door shares none of Enough’s emotional charm and all of it’s lack luster thrill. It simply falls flat, just like many modern thrillers tend to do.

Aside from Guzman’s exceptionally well played insanity and put-together wardrobe, most of the actors just seem to be filling up screen time, including you Kristin Chenoweth. While Lopez does eventually defeat Noah and the misunderstanding between them, she does it whimpering and all over the place.

The thing about horror films is that the entertainment is never in the cleverness of the maniac but in the consistently silly and clueless victims. The only person who catches on is the best friend and they always die. These type of films just aren’t resourceful or original enough anymore. The gruesomeness that is Noah’s fate however, is surprising and makes up a little bit for the rest of the film. I felt like I was watching a Quentin Tarantino film for two minutes and I loved every bit of it.

Overall, Rob Cohen’s The Boy Next Door focused too much on plot and not enough on the story. Like, why is Noah this way? We get very little in backstory or solo scenes with him that could give us insight into his insanity. Also, are you telling me that Noah never visited his Uncle prior to this? Or is this a new house that Claire and her son moved into after her husband cheated? And if so, why then go through all that just to let him casually sit on your couch every afternoon?

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