The Boy Next Door

An unconvincing performance from Jennifer Lopez in this attempt at a psychological thriller left us feeling as if not much actually happened. It’s a very dull hour and a half’s  portrayal of Things Going Badly Wrong that seeks to shock the audience with jumpy camera shots purely to keep us on edge and to no good effect…

When charming, young and handsome Noah (Ryan Guzman) moves in with his uncle, neighbour Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez), encourages his friendship with her bullied son Kevin (Ian Nelson) and is flattered by Noah’s seemingly harmless flirtatious behaviour. A troubled Claire, recently separated from her cheating husband Garrett (John Corbett)  (but still attempting to make it work) soon gives into the temptation presented by her new racy neighbour’s seduction and indulges in what she sees as a mistaken one night’s stand.

As her ongoing bid to fix things with her husband continues, it becomes apparent  that Noah felt differently about their fling, and we see him gradually transforming from the trustworthy and friendly boy next door to a damaged and impulsive brooding presence with a jealous obsession. The ensuing somewhat unrealistic developments leads rather too promptly to trouble for the Peterson family.

Right, so let us begin with the good. Sadly, there is none. Now for the bad, of which there’s far too much. Lopez’s performance lacks any real conviction of her fear as she faces up to her psychopathic tormentor. She simply spends most of the movie pouting at the camera and trying unsuccessfully to look as frightened as possible. A perhaps slightly more convincing Guzman only just manages to interpret a permanent wide-eyed look that veers too quickly from  ‘Hey! I’m a nice guy!’ to ‘No,  actually I’m a psycho’. Deemed a ‘suspense-thriller’, I could feel no suspense, and certainly no thrills. The lazy, cheesy script, coupled with far too many obvious and exaggerated zoom-in camera shots will soon persuade anyone with half a brain to conclude that this isn’t a film worth seeing. I might be being unfair, but I have to confess that this ‘feature’ film eventually made me feel as if I’d watched an hour and a half loop of J-Lo’s ‘Booty’ featuring Azelea, with slightly less sexy experimentation. Given  today’s high cinema standards , I would highly recommend that J-Lo sticks to her day job, and that you go and spend your money elsewhere.

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