The Boy Next Door (2015)

ROB COHEN

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB

USA, 2015. , , , . Screenplay by . Cinematography by . Produced by , , , , . Music by , . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

Convince yourself that everyone involved knows what a crazy time they’re having in this ridiculous sex thriller and you might enjoy it for all its worth, though it’s a crying shame that it isn’t even crazier than it is.  Jennifer Lopez plays a high school English teacher who teaches the very English writings of Plato, which is your first clue as to how things are going to go; her marriage to philandering husband is hanging by a thread, he’s moved out and they haven’t decided if they’re going to split up for good or give it another shot.  While struggling one fine day with her perpetually unreliable garage door, she is helped out of a jam by a hunky young stranger () who turns out to be visiting his wheelchair-bound uncle next door.  Guzman makes himself a welcome presence in Lopez’s home, befriending her lonely teenaged son and changing in front of open windows, and she can’t help but stare longingly at his sweet bod.  On a weekend when husband and son are away camping, the boy comes over and insists that they make sweet love, and she goes against her better judgment and gives in.  The next morning she is full of regret but her makeup hasn’t smudged, thank God, telling him that what they did they can never do again.  He, taking a page out of the Fatal Attraction bible, experiences a flashflood of jealousy and paranoia and insists that they are meant to be together forever.  Arriving at school she finds that he is still young enough to be in high school and has transferred into her class, then begins threatening to expose their affair to the entire community, risking both her professional career and precariously happy home life.  He begins acting violently at school, unafraid of the punishment being handed down by the school’s vice-principal and Lopez’s wine-night best friend (), who is herself rather fearless, facing this clearly psychotic young man who has just put another kid in the hospital alone in her office (a Blumhouse production made under the wunderkind producer’s usual Cormanesque conditions, this one finds any excuse to keep things to as small a number of participants as possible, there are no extras even in street scenes).  Our heroine’s desperation to make the situation go away only makes things worse for her no matter what she tries, though thankfully she always manages to have a gorgeous new cashmere sweater to wear for moments of high peril as things go from tense to horrific in the film’s barn-burning showdown.  This film is a zippy bit of nonsense whose cast make the unfortunate choice of being seriously commited to humorous, straightforward portrayals of their characters, you spend the whole time wishing Shelley Winters would run in and ask J-Lo how well endowed her attacker is.  It’s not meant to be good for you, so perhaps the filmmakers could have devoted themselves more to the idea of junkfood in celluloid form that the audience deserves from this set-up.

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