If there was one thing I thought that the entire world could agree on, it’s that there’s no such thing as a sexy teenage boy. That was before I saw The Boy Next Door, however, which is a movie that sells itself on the titillating premise of Jennifer Lopez giving into the dark urge to indulge herself in some underaged man-meat, and then suffering the consequences of her indiscretion. Of course, the problem of there being no such thing as a sexy teenage boy was mitigated by director Rob Cohen (xXx, Stealth) casting 27-year-old Ryan Guzman as a high school kid, but that premise alone should still be enough to help you understand just how ridiculous and ill-conceived a movie this is.
From Play Misty For Me to Fatal Attraction to Single White Female to Chuck and Buck, stalker stories have long been a staple of the thriller genre. They’re great for building tension, they tell a story that’s horrific but nonetheless grounded and relatable, and they generally make for a good excuse to inject some sex into a story. Maybe they don’t usually make for great art, but they almost always make for good trash entertainment. So, seeing as the second half of The Boy Next Door moves on from the salaciousness of J-Lo having an underage love affair to the terror of having said love affair turn into a dangerous stalker situation for her, you’d think that maybe the movie would still be able to entertain, if even in a half-ironic way. Unfortunately though, it’s not even competent enough to achieve that small level of success.
The Boy Next Door is a dumb movie—not just dumb in concept, but also dumb in execution. Its characters don’t act like people so much as they act like characters in a movie. They don’t speak like human beings so much as they speak like pawns in a melodrama who were conceived simply to drive a narrative forward. The disconnect between these people and the world they live in and real people and the real world is so severe that it becomes impossible to care about anything that happens to the Lopez character, or any of the peril she’s put in—which is ample. In fact, her stalker goes so over the top crazy, and the danger elements of the film get so broad and unbelievable, that a more charismatic actor could have used the antagonist role here to really chew some scenery and produce a potentially memorable bit of movie cheese, but Guzman is not that actor. He’s committed enough that he doesn’t embarrass himself, even when delivering bad material, but that’s the best that can be said of anyone involved in this production—they’ve made something bad, but something that’s too blandly bad for anyone to remember it or hold it against them in a month’s time. It’s probably best for everyone that we never speak of this movie again.