The Boy Next Door (PG) ***

Freak Out!

the boy next doorObsession rears its ugly head (and then some) in the unlikely yet effective The Boy Next Door. Hall of fame horror studio Universal shelves it’s classic monsters for a newer (though not necessarily improved ) version now delighting thrill seekers at Cineplex Odeon arenas around B.C.

Perhaps more suitable for the gloomy Halloween witching season or even Valentines’s Day (just kidding) this dark tinged thriller laced with sex and a range of offbeat situations revolves around a disjointed family and a new neighbour. Down on their ropes but not necessarily out are the Petersons. Bad boy head of the house Garrett is not exactly husband of the year material and is well “covered” by John Corbett (My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

Working wife Claire does her best to make ends meet and is played with charm and innocence by Jennifer Lopez (Selena). Big mistake. Despite the best of intentions in raising high school son Kevin being a teenager poses problems. High school memories and the trauma of being somewhat of a spaz and outcast are well presented by Ian Nelson who seems sort of lost.

When a new “kid” moves in next door it sets off a chain of events that impact mighty heavily on the Petersons extending even out to their friends. On the surface young Noah Sandburn seems like a dream friend and helper. Polite and ever ready to lend a hand is Ryan Guzman. Oh, and he’s also rather strong, sturdy and handsome. Call him a hunk on the move. And on the make.

Being beautiful can have its setbacks. Before you can say Welcome Wagon our hot to trot hot-blooded boy next door decides to make his relationship with the Mrs. just a bit more than “neighbourly”. What should have been an innocent “moment” turns into a time of terror as a very uneasy situation takes on a life of its own.

Director Rob Cohen knows his way around the thriller genre and though some of the set ups here are a bit predictable and at times some situations are preposterous the driving force of an obsession is believable and engaging. Solid acting on all fronts and a genuine air of excitement and foreboding doom and gloom turning to terror make The Boy Next Door a feverishly fun time at the movies sure to race hearts and sweat palms.

By Robert Waldman