ByBenjamin Marlatt, writer at

Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) is a high school teacher whose personal life is thrown through the ringer after she learned her husband Garrett (John Corbett) has been cheating on her. However, although, they’re separated, they’re still trying to work things out for the sake of their son Kevin (Ian Nelson).

Enter stalker-in-the-making Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman), the nephew of Claire’s next door neighbor who’s built like a professional athlete, hunky, intelligent, cultured, charming and quite the handyman.

Hell, he can probably walk on water too.

Noah forms a bond with Kevin, but his sights are mainly focused on Claire, and it leads to a little late night tryst between the two of them. Claire immediately regrets her momentary lapse in judgment, but Noah refuses to move on and is determined to make her life hell if he can’t get what he wants.

I tell ya, those psycho lovers just refuse to be ignored.

I gotta give props to the makeup department and cinematographer Dave McFarland. Jennifer Lopez is looking pretty good.

And that about does it for this film.

The Boy Next Door is a train wreck of a flick that would almost pass as a so bad it’s good disaster if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s as generically plotted as a film can get. This is brought to us by director Rob Cohen, whose career consists of such triumphant works as Daylight, The Skulls, The Fast and the Furious, xXx, Stealth, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and that one movie that had Madea fighting serial killers. Is there any reason to think that constructing an effectively taut psychological thriller is out of the realm of possibility with this man?

Well, I just named seven reasons, and now we can add an eighth.

That it’s a generic rehash of every other stalker movie ever made is like problem #316 with this film. The characters are idiots, the dialogue is painful and we learn once again that a vehicle crashing into the side of a semi will immediately explode on impact as if it was carrying a trunk load of dynamite. Maybe I wouldn’t give a damn about any of that if there was even a tiny ounce of suspense created here, but there’s no chance of that happening when every single character might as well be walking around with a giant neon sign hanging above them that says “THIS IS WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN TO ME NEXT!!!!” (in particular, Kristin Chenoweth as the ill-fated best friend of Lopez’s, taking the baton from No Good Deed’s Leslie Bibb).

The biggest offender here is Barbara Curry’s script, which along with the tacky dialogue and a character’s medical condition that’s as plot device as plot device can get, is filled with characters that suffer from a horrible case of short-term memory loss, as prior events in the film are forgotten within seconds. For example, there’s a scene at a high school prom where Noah attempts to rape Claire – yes that’s rape, and once again, that’s rape – and then it’s not long after that she’s back at his house trying to get some video that he took of them having sex. Woman, did you forget that he tried molesting you a scene ago? For God’s sakes, call the cops!

Of course, everyone will say that she can’t call the cops ’cause then that puts her in a sticky situation that will have her losing everything – her job, son, husband, etc. What’s so hard to overlook, though, is that Noah’s nineteen, so at worst this is an ethical issue and not even close to being a legal one. And even though there is the ethical dilemma, I can’t imagine it’s one that would result in her losing her job since the event occurred prior to the school year starting. The only thing she would lose is pretty much a little bit of her dignity (but gaining some major brownie points with the high school boys, though), and maybe some respect from her son as well, but instead of going to the cops (there is a scene where she visits a detective, but she says nothing when he asks if anything’s going on) she instead decides to be an idiot by putting everyone close to her in danger.

Lastly, this film could’ve been stupid fun, in spite of everything in it going horribly wrong, if there was a central villain that was remotely believable. Now, if you held a gun to my head and forced me to say something nice about the Step Up franchise, I guess I would say that Ryan Guzman has a presence that fits those films. Playing a psychotic stalker, one who goes from sweet and kind-hearted to obsessed to bat shit crazy in about three seconds, not so much. Guzman tries his hardest to be the crazy and menacing villain this film needs him to be, but no matter how many times he snarls his lip, he still winds up coming off as cute and cuddly as a character out of Sesame Street, a place in which he’d be the tenth most intimidating character. Guzman might very well be the least convincing villain we’ll see in 2015.

That says quite a bit since we’re only three weeks into the year.

The Boy Next Door might somehow provide amusement to dyed-in-the-wool fans of this genre and (or) moviegoers who like to get completely wasted before catching a flick, but overall it’s a dull, predictable Fatal Attraction wannabe that, for an erotic thriller, is neither erotic or thrilling. While it has a few laughs, albeit unintentional ones, this fails to reach so bad its good territory, and will ultimately be forgotten until it’s revived again on Netflix instant queue, as well as the Lifetime, OWN and Oxygen networks, where it will find a nice comfy time slot somewhere around 12-2 AM.

I give The Boy Next Door a D- (½★).

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