Movie ReviewsThe Surrogate Next Door (When the Bough Breaks Review)

Keith NoakesSeptember 9, 2016

Young, professional and successful, John (Morris Chestnut) and Laura (Regina Hall) Taylor desperately want to have a baby, but are unable to conceive. After exhausting all other options, the couple hire Anna (Jazz Sinclair), a beautiful young woman who agrees to become a surrogate mother for the Taylors. Everything seems fine until Anna starts to develop a dangerous fixation with John as the pregnancy moves further along. The Taylors now find themselves playing a deadly game with a psychopath who holds the key to their future.

If you think you’ve seen this film before, then you’re probably right as the plot heavily borrows from similar films including some recent ones (you can probably think of some). Expectations weren’t exactly the highest going into it  and after having watched it, they were rightfully set. This one is about a couple named John (Chestnut) and Laura (Hall) Taylor. They cannot conceive a child so they decide to enlist the help of a young woman named Anna (Sinclair). Things start off alright until they inevitably are not. Due to the plot’s derivative nature, nothing was very surprising (the trailer did that job already) which took a lot of the fun out of it.

John and especially Laura desperately want a child are willing to go to great lengths to get one. This perhaps clouded their judgement slightly once the seemingly perfect Anna comes along, offering to be their surrogate. Anna has some baggage of her own as she has to deal with an abusive boyfriend named Mike (Theo Rossi). She may or may not love him and/or may or may not be working together to try and scam the Taylors. This wasn’t exactly clear and could have fleshed out Anna and her intentions a little more but the film did not spend too much time with that.

The main focus here was the relationship between Anna and the Taylors. John and Anna spent a considerable amount of time together due to Laura being away for various engagements. This allowed the two of them to become closer but this relationship was more one-sided with Anna becoming obsessed with John and him not reciprocating her many advances. John decides to try and take care of it himself and not tell Laura because it wouldn’t be much of a film if he did. Instead of giving up the baby as planned, she would much rather start a new life with John and the baby. She tries a little too hard here and the dialogue was particularly bad during these moments.

We already know that she’s crazy but the film still gave her a backstory anyway which didn’t really add any more to it. The plot was not very surprising which made it pretty predictable, checking off each unoriginal plot point off the list. The fact that it was a pregnant person responsible for all this was kind of interesting and seeing that the fact that she had the Taylor’s last embryo added a sense of urgency to everything for all sides.She was crazy but there was only so much in which the Taylors could do about it.

Of course this wouldn’t last forever, obviously, which would lead to a confrontation. This was weird to watch for whatever reason as it was difficult to ever see Anna as any significant threat to them. It all became overly silly as a result. She was just overly attached to John and implied a much darker past but it was hard to ever see her that way as the film failed to establish that side of her character. She was pretty much all over the place here as we never knew what she wanted.

The acting from Chestnut and Hall were okay at playing a believable married couple. Their chemistry made them great to watch. Sinclair was over the top here with her performance as Anna. She overacted in trying to handle the duality of her character with no nuance going from dim and innocent to obsessive and cunning. Getting into the story was very troublesome because the material was so melodramatic, cheesy, and cliche. The music played into this, often overhyping scenes in trying to add suspense that probably wasn’t there to begin with.

Overall, this was a derivative suspense thriller with more cheese than suspense, featuring okay acting from Chestnut and Hall and an over the top performance by Sinclair.

Score: 4/10

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  • MovieManJackson

    September 9, 2016 at 10:32 PM

    I generally like this genre for what it is, I could rewatch things like Swimfan, Fear, and Play Misty for Me (the original psycho lover movie) over and over again. But some of these films are devoid of a good time. Like this one.

    • Keith Noakes

      September 9, 2016 at 10:35 PM

      Reminded me a lot of The Boy Next Door, hence the title. That one was my least favorite of last year but this was slightly better.

      • MovieManJackson

        September 10, 2016 at 8:46 AM

        That was just a horrid movie that wasn’t entertaining in the slightest.

  • Jason

    September 9, 2016 at 11:24 PM

    I have no interest in seeing this movie or even reviewing it. Your review just proved that I shouldn’t see it. Thanks!

    • Keith Noakes

      September 9, 2016 at 11:33 PM

      When trying to see everything in a year, you eventually run into ones like this.

      • Jason

        September 9, 2016 at 11:36 PM

        Haha…true. I might eventually see it, but maybe when it comes to HBO, Starz, or Showtime.

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