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The Boy Next Door's Bizarre Book Controversy Explained

boy next door poster jennifer lopez

The Boy Next Door baffled some viewers with a scene involving a "first-edition" copy of Homer's epic poem The Iliad - here's the controversy surrounding the book explained. The Boy Next Door is a 2015 thriller that revolves around teacher Claire (Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers), who has a one night stand with hunky next-door neighbor Noah. Claire regrets it the next day only for Noah to be revealed as a psychopath who vows to destroy her life if he can't have her.

The Boy Next Door is a modern example of the erotic thriller subgenre which had a brief run of success in the early 1990s following Basic Instinct. This led to several high-profile thrillers like Sliver with Sharon Stone, Bruce Willis' Color Of Night and Never Talk To Strangers. The popularity of these movies fizzled out quickly, though The Boy Next Door proved the dormant genre wasn't completely dead. The Blumhouse produced thriller was made on a low-budget and weathered bad reviews to gross over $50 million worldwide.

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What works in The Boy Next Door's favor is that its a good deal campier than other movies in the genre, and seems to be aware of its own trashiness. Ryan Guzman (9-1-1) also gives a delightfully over the top performance as Noah. If the film is remembered for one scene, however, it would be the moment Noah comes to Claire's house and gifts her a copy of The Iliad by Homer. It's not just any copy, with Noah pointing out its a "first-edition" of The Iliad; he also reveals he found the beautifully bound, hardcover book for a buck at a garage sale.

boy next door 2015 Iliad

Pausing to examine this scene from The Boy Next Door raises many questions. Firstly, The Iliad is a Greek poem that was passed down through oral tradition, before finally being written down around the 10th century. The book Noah hands over is written in English, so while it's possible it's supposed to be the first edition written in English, this still begs the question of how a very valuable book wound up going for a dollar at a garage sale.

The Boy Next Door screenwriter Barbara Curry later complained this moment wasn't in her script, and producer Jason Blum revealed he tried to talk director Rob Cohen (Alex Cross) out of including it but deferred to him creatively. Cohen later explained to Buzzfeed that in his mind, Noah went to a bookstore to buy an expensive copy of The Iliad so he had an excuse to see Claire. He also tried to justify the "first-edition" statement by claiming it referred to an imprint publishing a new version of a given book - meaning it was a first-edition copy of that particular version.

This explanation is still full of holes, so it did little to cool the conversation surrounding the "first-edition" scene. The Boy Next Door would likely be forgotten by now if it wasn't for the sheer bizarreness of this moment, so its probably for the best it was included.

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