By Mark Saldana

Rating: 1.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

For those who have already seen various films about stalkers or obsessive admirers (particularly the 1996 film Fear), have pretty much already seen The Boy Next Door. This latest version embraces just about every stalker movie cliche available and has very few surprises to offer. Though I found a few scenes rather amusing and few moments genuinely tense, the movie overall is rather tiresome and underwhelming.

Jennifer Lopez stars as Claire Peterson, a recently separated mother and high school teacher trying to decide whether or not her troubled marriage is worth saving. During this rough and vulnerable time in her life, Claire befriends the new young neighbor, Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman), a twenty-year old man named who moves in with his uncle. Smitten with Claire, successfully seduces her. While Claire acknowledges that their tryst should never have happened, Noah is not so easily convinced.

Written by Barbara Curry and directed by Rob Cohen, The Boy Next Door plays out much like the other stalker films. The story offers nothing new or fresh. The antagonist is charming at first, but goes crazy when he can’t get his way. People get threatened, hurt and killed, and the movie leads up to an attempt at a thrilling and explosive climax. The problem is he audience should know where he story is headed and how it all ends.

Much like the movie Fear, The Boy Next Door also has its share of funny scenes, both of the intentional and unintentional varieties. I actually cracked up more with the unintentionally laughable scenes. What can I say? I find much humor in the absurd and ludicrous attempts at drama and tension. Still, I’d rather watch Fear several times over and over instead of sitting through this shameless knock off once again.

The acting in the film ranges from solid to over-the-top. As Noah, Ryan Guzman has an undeniable screen presence, but has to work with horrible material.He does commit himself completely to the role, but does over-act in his supposedly psycho scenes. Jennifer Lopez delivers an adequate performance, but her character has limited depth.

There’s not much else that can be said about this waste of time. In fact, I’m not so sure why the filmmakers and cast wasted their time, energy and money on this lame copycat. My suggestion is that those considering watching this film shouldn’t waste theirs at the cinema.







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