This week The Boy Next Door meets Jenny from the Block in this January thriller from Universal Pictures and Blumhouse. Jennifer Lopez plays Claire, a woman who after being cheated on by her husband (John Corbett) is on the mend as her broken family reels from the events. Things are tough for her as her son Kevin (Ian Nelson) grapples with his parents divorce and school where he is relentlessly picked on and her best friend (Kristin Chenoweth) pushes her to get back to the dating scene. When Noah (Ryan Guzman) moves in next door to help his uncle, he becomes a godsend who helps her with her kid and becomes close to her–but like really close to her. A little on the Stacy’s Mom side at first. Don’t worry he’s like twenty and adds into her son’s high school to take her English class for credits toward his diploma. Not weird at all, right?
So while the set up is like something you’d see on the Lifetime channel, the movie makes some unexpected choices when it comes to the climax–if you know what I mean. The seduction scene between Noah and Claire, after she goes on a horrible date with a sexist man her age, turns out to be pretty intense as the boy sorta treats her pretty amazingly. They go there and the passion from that scene only added to the drama that unfolds right after. The pace goes back to the typical obsession sort of melodrama and it isn’t until she tries to reject him that things get a bit outta hand.
The not so subtle clues of Noah being obsessed with the Greek hero Achilles’ and his determination of power comes to life when he decides to make Claire see that he loves her. Guzman’s performance as the nice guy Noah was strong but his switch to crazy Noah was a bit more hesitant and forced. There were moments where he was close to attaining the Achilles’ alter ego but it just fell flat but the potential was there. The inappropriate lines that he tells Claire around her loved ones, should have been relished a bit more confidently. Jennifer shines in this one as her character shifts from a place a weakness to determined strength to protect her family. A fierce performance in her kick-ass caliber.
The action in the movie-cause yes there is action amps up the otherwise tv special-ness of the movie. It’s not surprise since it’s helmed by Fast and Furious’ Rob Cohen. Corbett gets a fun car scene with a purple hot rod that Noah messed with. The last act follows that as the film goes into Blumhouse thriller territory with the violence getting kicked up a few notches. The mental terrorism of pics from their tryst was child’s play, Noah refuses to lose. The last scene escalates quickly but doesn’t quite embrace the horror thriller completely and is more b-movie unintentionally entertaining. After seeing an indie last year that also centers on a family being terrorized by a lone psycho, you couldn’t help but see how this one falls short. It’s choices could have been bolder in this relatively fun popcorn flick.
The Boy Next Door is in theaters now.