Jennifer Lopez Ryan Guzman Kristin Chenoweth Bailey Chase
THE BOY NEXT DOOR
Rob Cohen, who directed this film has primarily worked in television, and this production seemed like a TV show where the filmmakers realized they had a lot more extra time they needed to fill, so kept adding more and more ludicrous material. The villain (Guzman) is creepily seductive in the beginning; he is 20, but wants to take a high school class in English literature taught by Claire (Lopez). The writer uses the thin connection of his loving the Classics to make him intellectually appealing to her beyond his sexy appearance. And he is a hunk. Not only that, he has come to take care of his great uncle—her neighbor—during a medical procedure, he makes a positive connection with her teenage son (Chase), and is very handy at fixing things. Seems too good to be true, doesn’t it?
If the filmmakers had chosen to retain more subtlety in the Noah character and made his relationship with Claire more nuanced, I think the film might have had a chance to be very good, especially since the actors—most notably Guzman, who is scarily seductive—give fine performances. But they obviously wanted to make a cheap horror film that pushes the limits of credulity and amps up disgusting and morbid factors—as so many so-called horror films do. They just cannot resist letting the blood flow copiously, and include fires, explosions, bullets, and car chases.
It’s disappointing to see responsible characters like teachers and principals portrayed as clueless in the face of blatant psychopathy, always trying to “handle” the circumstances and not getting in touch with the authorities, putting themselves into dangerous circumstances, and not even trying to escape when they have a chance. I truly think that most of us have more sense than the filmmakers give us credit for.
It’s also annoying to see so much made of the “older” woman-younger man attraction, as if that is scandalous, when we consider the older man, younger woman coupling as routine. The paradox is especially noticeable in this plot because the apparent difference in age between Claire and her husband is probably the same as the one between Claire and Noah. It’s just that the sexes are reversed.
Because of the implausibility of the script, I was surprised to see that the screenwriter, Barbara Curry, has a JD, and worked for 10 years as an attorney in California in a major violent crimes unit, and that this story is based on a real case. It may be that once the “Hollywood” influence came to bear, she may not have had much control over the filmmaking after that, and the plot went over the top with thrills at the expense of lucidity and quality.
Something to be missed.
By Donna R. Copeland