The Boy Next Door (film)
|The Boy Next Door|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rob Cohen|
|Written by||Barbara Curry|
|Edited by||Michel Aller|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$53.4 million|
The Boy Next Door is a 2015 American erotic thriller-horror film directed by Rob Cohen and written by Barbara Curry. The film stars Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, and Ian Nelson, with John Corbett and Kristin Chenoweth playing supporting roles. Lopez plays a high school teacher named Claire who, in the midst of being separated from her husband (Corbett), has a one-night stand with a younger neighbor (Guzman), who develops a dangerous obsession with her.
Barbara Curry, a former criminal lawyer, wrote the screenplay for the film inspired from her life's experiences. Blumhouse Productions financed and produced the film, which was filmed for 23 days in Los Angeles and other locations in California at the end of 2013.
The film was released in the United States on January 23, 2015, by Universal Pictures. The Boy Next Door received generally negative reviews from film critics, who felt that it promised "campy thrills" but did not deliver and grossed $53.4 million against a $4 million budget. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 28, 2015.
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. Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman) moves in next door to help his uncle, who uses a wheelchair. They learn that there was a car accident in Noah's family last year, and now he's an orphan. Noah befriends Kevin (Ian Nelson), Claire's 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, Noah catches Claire watching him change clothes 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 has passionate sex with Noah. Claire tells Noah that she regrets their night together, causing him to punch a wall in rage. The school year begins, with Noah joining 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 gym class 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 it. Noah witnesses Claire and Garrett together at home after going on a date, escalating 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 Noah insults her, she expels him. During the fall fling, Claire goes to investigate a leak in the boys' bathroom, where she sees the words "I fucked Claire Peterson" written on the wall before Noah emerges. He attempts to rape 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 pictures of them sleeping together scattered everywhere. Later, when Garrett's car brakes fail to work, he and Kevin are nearly involved in an accident. That evening, Claire finds Noah with Garrett and Kevin in her drawing room. Noah blackmails Claire, telling her that he has a video of them having sex, which he will relinquish to her if she continues sleeping with him. She refuses, and has Vicky lure Noah away from his house so she can break in and delete their sex tape. While there, she finds pictures of herself all over the walls and on his laptop; she also finds instructions on how to tamper with the brakes of Garrett's car and Noah's parents' car. With the help of a detective, she learns the truth about the car accident in Noah’s family.
Noah binds and gags Vicky with duct tape and uses a recording of her voice to lure Claire to her house. When Claire arrives, she discovers Vicky dead. A horrified Claire contacts the police, but runs into Noah again. She accuses him of killing his parents, and he clarifies that his mother killed herself after his father cheated on her and he retaliated by cutting the brakes of his father‘s car, killing him and his mistress. Noah takes Claire to a barn house where he has tied up Garrett and Kevin, threatening to kill them unless Claire stays with him. Noah pours kerosene around the barn, causing it to ignite in flames. Garrett frees himself and attempts to choke Noah with a rope, prompting Noah to shoot him in the chest. Claire stabs Noah's eye with Kevin's EpiPen. Noah removes the EpiPen from his eye and blindly attempts to strangle Claire to death. When he is about to kill Kevin, she pulls a lever that drops an engine on him to his death. Claire and Kevin then help a wounded Garrett exit the burning barn house as police and paramedics arrive.
- Jennifer Lopez as Claire Peterson
- Ryan Guzman as Noah Sandborn
- Ian Nelson as Kevin Peterson
- John Corbett as Garrett Peterson
- Kristin Chenoweth as Vicky Lansing
- Lexi Atkins as Allie Callahan
- Hill Harper as Principal Edward Warren
- Travis Schuldt as Ethan
- Brian Mahoney as Cooper
- Adam Hicks as Jason Zimmer
- François Chau as Detective Johnny Chou
- Bailey Chase as Benny
Conception and writing
Screenwriter Barbara 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". Curry was influenced by the real-life story of Mary Kay Letourneau, a teacher who became involved with her underage student, causing 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 19, 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 Basic Instinct (1992) and Swimfan (2002), 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".
Casting of The Boy Next Door began early September 2013, when Jennifer Lopez was chosen to play Claire. Kristin Chenoweth was later cast in the film as Lopez's character's friend. In October 2013, John Corbett and Ryan Guzman were cast in the film, with Corbett playing Lopez's ex-husband and Guzman playing the titular role. After an audition, newcomer Lexi Atkins was also cast in the film for a small role.
Lopez, who also served as producer on the film, chose a fellow Latino actor Guzman to cast in the film, stating that "two Latinos opening in a mainstream movie, if it does well, that's gonna change things. I would love for the Latino community to come out and support this movie because it would give us the freedom." She also stated that "We [Latinos] don't have to be close-minded, where two Latinos have to be speaking Spanish or they have to have some Latin reference in the movie... That's what I love about this film. We're breaking down the walls and stereotypes."
—Lopez on filming The Boy Next Door
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." She 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." On filming sex scenes, Guzman said "that was the time in the film when I was the most uncomfortable. We had to choreograph every piece... It was the most unsexy-really-sexy scene that you'll see on screen." Filming took place throughout fall 2013 in Los Angeles. In December 2013, the film received permit to shoot in Placerita Canyon, Newhall. Some of the remaining scenes were also filmed in April 2014.
The theatrical trailer for The Boy Next Door was released on September 8, 2014. The teaser poster, unveiled in October 2014, features 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 might not have been possible if a big studio had produced it. She visited ¡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 Lopez's pull with Latino audiences would help it. However, the publication said that Lopez's box office drawing power had been dwindling, which worked against the film.
The film was released on January 23, 2015. It runs for approximately 90 minutes and was given an R rating from the MPAA for "violence, sexual content/nudity, and language". A BBFC classification, dated February 9, 2015, 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.
Opening across 2,602 North American theaters, The Boy Next Door was projected to pull in $12–15 million over its opening weekend. The film earned $5.7 million on its opening day, well over its budget. It 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 percent 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 (2001) which opened with $13.5 million. It was also her best opening weekend for a thriller film, ahead of Angel Eyes (2001, $9.2 million), Enough (2002, $14 million), and Parker (2013, $7 million). Furthermore, it is Lopez's biggest live-action opening since 2005's Monster-in-Law. The Boy Next Door ended its domestic box office run with a total of $36.6 million, and has earned another $17.3 million in foreign markets, making a total of $53 million.
The Boy Next Door received generally 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 11%, based on 133 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 Boy Next Door, calling it "breathless, uninspired (...) junk that feels like the iffiest bits of a Lifetime movie and late-night cable schlock slapped together", calling 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, 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". Although he called the film "clunky and ridiculous", Daniel D'Addario from Time but said it is "a rare movie about women" and "the Bad Movie Hollywood Needs Right Now". D'Addario added that the film feels "perversely refreshing" for its focus on women's issues.
Several publications particularly criticized the scene where Noah gives Claire a printed book that is supposed to be a first edition copy of the Iliad, a work written nearly 3,000 years ago in Greece. Amy Heidt, writing for Slate, noted that while a first English edition could have been a possible explanation, such works were from the 16th and 17th centuries, and describes the book Noah gives Claire as "A pristine hardcover that looks like those Jane Austen Penguin Classics they sell at Urban Outfitters." Following the film's release, the term "The Iliad, first edition" became the top search term on the online book marketplace AbeBooks. Richard Davis, a spokesman for the website, said: "It appears people who have watched the film are trying to identify the actual edition handed to Lopez, which has dark yellow and blue boards. I cannot match the book seen in the movie to anything currently for sale on AbeBooks."
Awards and nominations
The film earned Lopez an MTV Movie Award nomination and win for Best Scared-As-Shit Performance at the 2015 MTV Movie Awards. Lopez later received two more accolades for her work as an actress and as a producer in film at the Premios Juventud, broadcast by Univision. Lopez earned a People's Choice Award nomination for Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress, the movie was nominated for Favorite Thriller Movie. The movie received one Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Lopez in the Worst Actress category.
|2015||MTV Movie Award||Best Scared-As-Shit Performance||Jennifer Lopez||Won|
|Premios Juventud||Actriz que Se Roba La Pantalla (Favorite Actress)||Won|
|Pantalla Más Padre (Favorite Movie)||Jennifer Lopez, Jason Blum||Won|
|2016||People's Choice Award||Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress||Jennifer Lopez||Nominated|
|Favorite Thriller Movie||The Boy Next Door||Nominated|
|Golden Raspberry Awards||Worst Actress||Jennifer Lopez||Nominated|
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