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Sunday, 10 May 2015

The Boy Next Door (2015)

When a harmless fling turns into obsession
This Hollywood psycho thriller released in early 2015 and stars Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Guzman as the main characters.

The Plot

Claire Peterson, played by Jennifer Lopez, teaches English literature in high school. She is separated from her husband Garrett Peterson after he was caught having an his affair with his secretary.

Struggling to move on after a broken marriage, Claire encounters Noah Sandborn, played by Ryan Guzman, a charming 20 year old boy who has just moved next doors. Noah helps out Claire with repair jobs around the house and befriends Claire's teenage son Kevin. 

Gradually, Noah becomes a regular in the Peterson household, and his attraction towards Claire is more than palpable. Claire's friend Vicky points it out to her, and though Claire senses it, she treats it as a silly teenage fantasy and dismisses her concern.

However, one lonely and rainy night when Kevin is away on a camping trip with his dad, Noah tricks Claire into his house on the pretext of a micro-oven disaster. One thing leads to another and Claire and Noah end up sleeping together. The next morning, Claire is in a rush to get out of Noah's house and tries to explain to him that the previous night was a big mistake and that both of them should just move on. But Noah is devastated by the rejection.

I am not following you, I live next door remember?
Obsessed with Claire, he starts stalking her by enrolling himself in her class, sending her anonymous flowers, trying to poison Kevin's mind against his father so that Claire and Garrett cannot reconcile. He even goes to the extent of hanging a classroom full of photos of their night together, just to scare Claire into coming back to him. 

Meanwhile, a bullying incident causes Noah to be expelled from school by vice principal and Claire's good friend Vicky, who knows everything about the stalking. Vicky advises Claire to break into Noah's house and retrieve the photos and sex video that Noah is using to blackmail. Things go totally haywire from there. What starts as a harmless one-night stand becomes a deadly game of blackmail and murder. The climax ends with a lot of violence.

Things That Went Wrong With The Movie

I would have started with the good points about the movie, if there had been any. But I simply could not see anything that makes the movie worth watching.

  • The events were extremely predictable, especially the part where Garrett's car had a brake failure. I was expecting that to happen at least a few scenes before, given that Noah was greatly resenting Garrett's effort to win back his estranged wife Claire, and the blue sports car was his only hallmark.
  • There was no suspense build-up at all. While you would expect the teenage fantasy to turn ugly based on the movie title itself, Noah's character wasn't given the depth it deserved. His obsession towards Claire got built up in a very hurried manner.
  • It was a surprise that Claire didn't go to the police when Noah hung the photos of their sexual encounter all over the classroom. She didn't have anything to fear as Noah was already an adult and not her student when they had the one-night stand.
  • Vicky points out to Noah while expelling him that she had just discovered - he was dismissed from his previous school for disorderly behaviour but somehow the paperwork was missing when Noah enrolled in this school. Okay, how lame can that be? What school doesn't review the character certificate of a transferring student?
  • Noah unnecessarily killed Vicky even though his explanation was that he did it for Claire. Even psychopaths are smart enough to know that a woman running from you would no way come back to you if you killed her best friend, and certainly not when you kidnapped her family members and tortured them. It was a lame attempt to induce terror in the climax.
  • Overall, what started as a seemingly interesting movie ended up becoming a sleazy psycho thriller that isn't very thrilling. You can watch this movie only if you are terribly bored on a weekend and have run out of anything else to watch.

Moral of the story 

Teachers must never sleep with high-school students as it can never end well, specially if the student is a psychopath :) So essentially, a cliché theme presented in an even more cliché manner. 

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