While Freud may argue that humans are instinctually driven by impulses of love and death, director Rob Cohen and first-time screenwriter Barbara Curry’s melodramatic romance/horror film, “The Boy Next Door,” is a grotesque mockery of the human condition.
As the title may imply, “The Boy Next Door” tries to be equally flirty and sinister, starting off as a bad harlequin romance which becomes an equally bad thriller.
It’s not hard to guess who this movie’s made for: the soccer moms enamored with E.L. James’ “50 Shades of Grey.” James’ books gave suburban mothers a brief education into the “dark and thrilling” world of BDSM. Likewise, Curry’s script, which draws heavily on Greek myths, attempts to provide an education.
Curry’s script loosely echoes the themes of David Mamet’s “Oleanna.” Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) is a high school teacher teaching classics as her husband, Garrett (John Corbett), cheats on her with younger women.
In return, she cheats on him with muscles — a 20-year-old orphan who introduces himself as new neighbor Noah Sanborn (Ryan Guzman). This barely of age un-graduate is her student and a repeating senior at Claire and her son’s (Ian Nelson) school, Monroe High.
Unlike Dustin Hoffman’s character in “The Graduate,” Guzman is suave and self-assured as Noah, seeking the companionship of the MILF next door. He appeals to a mother’s sympathies — protecting his asthma-ridden son, fixing her garage door and quoting literature.
But while characters talk about Homer’s “Illiad,” they enact Sophocles “Oedipus Rex.” Like Eve, Claire takes a bite from the apple of temptation in some unnecessarily R-rated sex scenes.
Forbidden fruit is costly, though, and her sin has woven himself into her home and classroom.
Lopez and Guzman, however, haven’t woven themselves in ours. It’s not their fault that the characters they play are vapid caricatures. You can see that Lopez is trying to be serious. But the predictable and easily reproduced script is as forgettable as its tenants — empty bodies easily replaced with dozens of other attractive and sculpted actors. The pervasiveness of bad writing is the most frightening thing of all.
“The Boy Next Door” was directed by Rob Cohen and written by Barbara Curry.