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The Boy Next Door is a 2015 American erotic-thriller film directed by Rob Cohen & written by Barbara Curry, starring Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, John Corbett, Ian Nelson and Kristin Chenoweth.

PlotEdit

Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) separates from her husband Garrett (John Corbett), after he was caught cheating with his secretary. Her colleague and best friend Vicky Lansing (Kristin Chenoweth) urges Claire to divorce.

Claire meets 19-year-old Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman)—the orphaned nephew of her wheelchair-bound neighbor—who has just moved in next door. Noah befriends Kevin (Ian Nelson), Claire's teenage son and begins attending his school where Claire teaches English literature. Noah is drawn to Claire, expressing love for Homer's Iliad. With Kevin and Garrett away on a fishing trip, Claire watches a naked Noah in his room through her window.

Claire goes on a miserable double date with Vicky and her boyfriend Ethan (Travis Schuldt), and his ill-mannered friend Benny (Bailey Chase). With Kevin still away, Noah calls Claire over to help him cook. She ends up having dinner with him, during which he unashamedly flirts with her.

Despite Claire's hesitation, she lets Noah seduce her and they have sex. Claire tells Noah that she regrets their night together, causing him to punch a wall in rage. The school year begins with Noah joining an uncomfortable Claire's class after hacking into her computer, making it appear as if she had requested this.

Noah manipulates Kevin into hating his father, causing him to lash out at Garrett. Later, Kevin overexerts himself at the gymnasium and goes into shock; Noah saves his life by injecting him with Kevin's EpiPen. Claire receives flowers from Noah, and she confronts him about this. Noah witnesses Claire and Garrett on a date together, which escalates his obsession with her.

After an incident where Noah (in defense of Kevin) slams a bully's (Adam Hicks) head into a locker repeatedly, Vicky (who is vice principal at the school) discovers that Noah was kicked out of his previous school for disorderly conduct. After an encounter where Noah insults her, she expels him.

During the fall fling, Claire goes to investigate a leak in the boys' bathroom, where she instead sees the words "I fucked Claire Peterson" written on the wall before Noah emerges. He attempts to force himself on her, but she fends him off and demands that he stay away from her and Kevin.

The following day, Noah leaves a printer running in Claire's classroom, with images of them sleeping together scattered everywhere. When Garrett's car brakes fail to work, he and Kevin are nearly involved in an accident. Noah blackmails Claire; telling her that he has a tape of them having sex which he will relinquish to her if she continues sleeping with him. She refuses, and organizes a plot with Vicky to steer Noah away from his house.

Claire breaks into Noah's house and sees hundreds of images of herself in his basement. She finds his laptop, deleting their sex tape, and also sees images of car brakes, implying that he rigged Garrett's brakes. She meets with Detective Chou (François Chau), who informs her that Noah's father was killed after swerving into a truck with his minivan.

Noah binds and gags Vicky with duct tape and uses an audio recording of her voice to lure Claire to her house. When Claire arrives, she discovers Vicky's dead body, with her throat having been slashed by Noah. A horrified Claire contacts the police, but runs into Noah again. He reveals to her that his mother killed herself after his father cheated on her, so he rigged the brakes of his father's minivan, killing him and his mistress.

Noah takes Claire to a barn house where he has kidnapped Garrett and Kevin, threatening to kill them unless Claire stays with him.

A violent altercation occurs as Claire attempts to free them. Noah pours kerosene around the barn, causing it to ignite in flames. Garrett (having freed himself) attempts to choke Noah with a rope, prompting Noah to shoot him in the chest. Claire stabs Noah's eye with Kevin's EpiPen. When he later holds Kevin at gunpoint, she pulls a switch that drops an engine on Noah, killing him.

Claire and Kevin then help a wounded Garrett exit the burning barn house as the police arrive. Garrett is put in an ambulance. A paramedic says that Garrett will be fine. Claire and Kevin ride in the ambulance with him.

CastEdit

  • Jennifer Lopez: Claire Peterson
  • Ryan Guzman: Noah Sandborn
  • John Corbett: Garrett Peterson
  • Ian Nelson: Kevin Peterson
  • Kristin Chenoweth: Vicky Lansing
  • Lexi Atkins: Allie Callahan
  • Hill Harper: Principal Edward Warren
  • Travis Schuldt: Ethan
  • Brian Mahoney: Cooper
  • Adam Hicks: Jason Zimmer
  • François Chau: Detective Johnny Chou
  • Bailey Chase: Benny

ProductionEdit

Screenwriter Barbra Curry (who was a criminal lawyer for ten years) revealed that she developed the script's concept after running past a house which she described as her "dream house".

A "bad boy" her son went to school with resided in the house across the street which gave her a "really interesting" concept about a neighborhood boy creating conflict and "driving a wedge between a family". This served as her inspiration for the screenplay.

Curry stated that the "first few drafts of [the movie] focused on a 12-year-old boy and a mother's trial of trying to get her son out of this boy's clutches and gradually, it became something else".

In the original script, Claire was "happily married", but Curry chose to have her separated due to her husband's infidelity, so that she could be a "more sympathetic character". She was influenced by the real-life story of Mary Kay Letourneau, a teacher who became involved with her underage student which caused her to be convicted for rape charges.

Director Rob Cohen revealed that in Curry's draft, the character of Noah was younger, but he made the conscious decision to age him to 17 years old because he felt as if it was "not healthy" and that audiences would lose sympathy for the protagonist.

Explaining her character, Lopez stated that Claire was feeling "worthless" after her husband cheated and "people can understand that. They can understand making a mistake in a moment like that."

The Boy Next Door‍ '​s plot has been compared to the thriller films Swimfan and Basic Instinct while being dubbed "the Fatal Attraction of 2015". The formerly dominant erotic thriller genre had been fading from Hollywood features since the 1990s.

Director Rob Cohen stated that with the film, he wanted to "reinvent the genre in an entertaining way" that would reflect "2015, not 1990".

On his approach, Cohen said that he refused to consider making the film PG-13: "The first thing I said was, If you want me, I'm making an R-rated movie. I don't want to deal with sex and make it, like, for 13-year-olds."

The film took 23 days to shoot. Discussing its micro-budget, Lopez stated: "You know what, we put all four million dollars in front of the camera! We all shared one trailer, we had no craft service, it wasn't that type of luxury movie set, let's say."

Lopez also found that the limited budget and filming period was "super intense", saying: "I never had done a film like that in my career. That was the first time we did that, but it was very liberating as an artist because it made me realize I can make whatever movie I want like this."

The filming took place throughout the fall of 2013. In December of 2013, the film received permit to shoot in Placerita Canyon, Newhall.

MarketingEdit

The theatrical trailer for "The Boy Next Door" was released on September 8, 2014.

The teaser poster was unveiled in October of 2014, featuring Jennifer Lopez standing in a window wearing a "tight low-cut lacy cami."

The film's main demographic is women and Latinos.

Lopez made her largest Hispanic press tour to date in Miami in promotion of The Boy Next Door. She hoped that the film would appeal to Hispanic markets, due to featuring two Hispanic leads, which she stated may not have been possible if a big studio had produced it.

She visited the "¡Despierta América!" and "Nuestra Belleza Latina" shows which air on the Latin American network Univision, the latter of which saw 22% ratings gain with Lopez's appearance.

According to Variety, the film received 105,000 posts on Twitter by the day of its release.

Measuring the film's pros and cons, Boxoffice magazine said that the film's social media activity online and Jennifer Lopez's pull with Latino audiences would help it.

However, the publication also noted that Lopez's box office drawing power had been dwindling which worked against the film.

ReleaseEdit

"The Boy Next Door" was released on January 23, 2015. It runs for approximately 91 minutes and was given an R rating from the MPAA for "violence, sexual content/nudity, and language".

On February 9, 2015, a BBFC classification gives the film a 15 certificate for "strong violence, threat, very strong language".

The film's UK distributors, also Universal Studios, chose to remove two seconds of material (the eye gouging scene) in order to obtain a 15. There is an 18-rated version available.

ReceptionEdit

Box OfficeEdit

"The Boy Next Door" was projected to pull in $12–15 million over its opening weekend.

It earned $5.7 million on its opening day, well over its budget & opened at number two at the US box office, with an opening weekend gross of $14.9 million, significantly higher than the other new releases for that week.

The Hollywood Reporter revealed that 45 percent of the film's opening week audience was Hispanic while 71% of the overall audience was female.

The film became Lopez's best opening weekend for a January release, beating her romantic comedy The Wedding Planner which opened with $13.5 million.

It was also her best opening weekend for a thriller film, ahead of Angel Eyes (in 2001 at $9.2 million), Enough (in 2002 at $14 million) and Parker (in 2013 at $7 million).

Furthermore, it is Lopez's biggest live-action opening since Monster-in-Law, nearly ten years ago.

The film ended its domestic box office run with a total of $35.4 million, and has earned another $16.5 million in foreign markets.

Critical ReceptionEdit

"The Boy Next Door" received largely negative reviews from film critics, who felt that it promised "campy thrills" but did not deliver.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 10%, based on 115 reviews, with a rating average of 3.3/10.

The site's consensus reads: "The Boy Next Door may get a few howls out of fans of stalker thrillers, but for most viewers, it won't even rise to 'so bad it's good' status".

On Metacritic, the film has a score of 30 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".

According to CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a grade of "B−" on an A+ to F scale.

Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Thomas Lee wrote: "Why Lopez decided to do this inept, cliche-infested film is anyone's guess".

Peter Keough of The Boston Globe wrote that "[the film] may end up as one of the worst movies of 2015, but it is also one of the most entertaining".

The Guardian writer Jordan Hoffman gave the film two stars, writing that "it is bad, but it isn't THAT bad" and said: "for a would-be cult classic, this could have been much more".

Robert Abele of the Los Angeles Times was critical of the film, calling it "breathless, uninspired (...) junk that feels like the iffiest bits of a Lifetime movie and late-night cable schlock slapped together" and called Guzman's character boring.

Entertainment Weekly‍ '​s Leah Greenblatt similarly wrote that the film was a "few deliciously bonkers bons mots dot the Lifetime-grade dialogue" while calling its script "too timid to fully dive into the high camp it hints at".

Despite negative reviews, Jennifer Lopez has received praise.

Richard Lawson from Vanity Fair wrote:

"Given the material, Lopez is actually pretty darn good in the movie, taking it seriously enough that it’s not irksomely arch camp, but also plenty aware that she’s not doing Shakespeare. She’s a joy to watch throughout."

Claudia Puig from USA Today stated that the movie was an improvement on her previous romantic comedies, calling Lopez "believably powerful in moments of physical conflict".

Daniel D’Addario from Time called the movie "clunky and ridiculous", but also called it "a rare movie about women" and "the Bad Movie Hollywood Needs Right Now", adding that:

"Lopez's new project represents an earnest attempt to capitalize on a very real public hunger to see a woman at the center of a mainstream movie—not an indie, but an old-fashioned popcorn flick. Can either the boy-centric Best Picture nominees or the elusive Best Actress pictures say that? If every director, at every level of ambition, were making commercially ambitious movies about women, The Boy Next Door wouldn't feel so perversely refreshing. But its director is one of very few who actually did."

AccoladesEdit

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2015 MTV Movie Award Best Scared-As-S**t Performance Jennifer Lopez Won
2015 Premios Juventud Actriz que Se Roba La Pantalla (Favorite Actress) Jennifer Lopez Won
2015 Premios Juventud Pantalla Más Padre (Favorite Movie) Jennifer Lopez, Jason Blum Won
2016 People's Choice Award Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress Jennifer Lopez Results pending
Favorite Thriller Movie The Boy Next Door Results pending

Theatrical TrailerEdit

The Boy Next Door (2015) Movie Trailer

The Boy Next Door (2015) Movie Trailer

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