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One of many simple rules to surviving a Lifetime movie: if you ever get a new neighbor, START PACKING. In the Lifetimeverse, you're bound to wind up with a serial killer or seductive femme fatale looking for a marriage to wreck living in the next house over. It's as much a certainty as that, in horror movies, if a character opens a refrigerator or medicine cabinet late at night, a jump scare will be waiting for them when they close the door.
Such is the case for artist Alex (budding Lifetime gem Haylie Duff) and her new fiancé Gavin (Steven Bruns) when Donnie (Twilight alum Michael Welch) begins staying at their neighbor's house while they are out on vacation. At first, Donnie seems like the perfect neighbor, getting along great with Alex, helping out around the house, and sparking a romance with Alex's younger sister, Sage (Brittany Underwood). But soon, Donnie begins to wear his welcome with Gavin, and Sage comes to realize she's not the true object of Donnie's eye. As it turns out, Alex and Donnie share a connection from the past...one that will dredge up painful memories for Alex and Donnie alike...
For the most part, The Bachelor Next Door is your standard "psycho enters a couple's life and makes it a living Hell" type of Lifetime film. It will come as no surprise to new viewers that Donnie turns out to be an obsessed psycho wanting Alex for himself, and that he'll do whatever it takes to have her. Even his hidden connection to Alex's traumatic past (which is pretty much spoiled due to flashbacks throughout the movie) doesn't do much to diversify The Bachelor Next Door. If anything, it hurts the film by opening up the opportunity for the plot-line to deviate from previous Lifetime iterations, only to, instead, take the road most traveled.
(For example, while watching this movie, I thought it would've been an interesting twist if SPOILER ALERT: it turned out that it was Gavin who attempted to rape Alex in college and that Donnie was attempting to protect her from him)
Acting-wise, everyone does well with what they are given. Haylie Duff does her best with the standard "cute woman with a troubled past" Lifetime role, and Michael Welch channels in his excellent emoting (and screaming) from 2011's Born Bad (another Lifetime original) to make Donnie a memorable and compelling villain. His motivation also opens up the possibility for him to be developed past the usual obsessed maniac trope, but that, too, is sadly ignored in favor of the beaten cinematic path. On a positive note, Brittany Underwood brought a little something to the table with her portrayal of the cutesy and naïve Sage, though her final bit revealing her jealousy towards her eldest sister does come out of nowhere and feels like a deleted scene that accidentally wound up in the final cut.
Overall, The Bachelor Next Door is far from being the worst film in Lifetime's collection. It's just one of many films they have on their roster that are simply OK; simply a good movie to watch when you've got some down time and want to relax. If a Lifetime film accomplishes that much without inducing excessive boredom or headaches, the baseline goal has been accomplished. But Lifetime has proven itself recently (and in the past) to be capable of doing more than that, and hopefully, Haylie Duff's next venture into the Lifetimeverse with the soon-to-be-released Deadly Delusions will see her in something of higher caliber for this network.
Score: 5 out of 10 cabin standoffs.