Seeking a fresh start, newly divorced Sarah (Oscar-nominee Elisabeth Shue) and her daughter Elissa (Oscar-nominee Jennifer Lawrence) find the house of their dreams in a small, upscale, rural town. But when startling and unexplainable events begin to happen, Sarah and Elissa learn the town is in the shadows of a chilling secret. Years earlier, in the house next door, a daughter killed her parents in their beds, and disappeared – leaving only a brother, Ryan (Max Thieriot), as the sole survivor. Against Sarah’s wishes, Elissa begins a relationship with the reclusive Ryan – and the closer they get, the deeper they’re all pulled into a mystery more dangerous than they ever imagined.
Film informationGenre: Horror, Thriller
The House at the End of the Street is not the type of horror movie that horror purists are going to immediately latch onto. This is especially true of the modern day horror purists that demand a fair amount of blood and gore. There is little in the way of blood, gore or typical slasher movie scares. This movie is much more cerebral with its scares…or at least that is what they were aiming for. Unfortunately, they missed the mark with several illogical plot twists and eventually regressed to jump scares to try to salvage the movie.
Although it has been trashed in the critic’s arena, I found it to be better than most of them are saying. It has its redeeming qualities, mostly in the area of casting. The movie is not the total loss that many of them are claiming and there are parts of the movie that will have you gripping your seat. Ultimately, the problem with this movie is that the scares are empty. That is, you get some occasional scares without the payoff a great story and original script can bring. In other words, you leave feeling as though you have seen it before….many times over.
The positives of the movie are rather obvious from the start. The characters are solid and the castings are all on point. Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) in particular makes the film better. She has a powerful presence for an actress of such a young age.
The film is directed by Mark Tonderai, and it is pretty strong on looking good. The problems are in the storyline by screenwriter David Loucka. Things begin alright enough. All the characters and even the basic plotline are strong. You find yourself interested thirty minutes into the film. Then Loucka begins twisting things and trying to throw you by coming up with completely insane plot turns. Eventually you find yourself asking why and not in a good way. In fact, you see it coming before it even happens because you have seen it before…and seen it better.
Lawrence plays the character of Elissa. Elissa and her mom (played with typical elegance by the lovely Elisabeth Shue) move into a home alone after a nasty divorce. They chose this small town Pennsylvania home for its price. Unfortunately, the home is cheap for a reason. The neighboring home was the scene of a double murder four years ago. It seems that a young girl murdered her parents and then disappeared into the surrounding woods, never to be found. Her brother Ryan (Max Thieriot) escaped her wrath and still lives in the house alone…or is he alone?
All the teens in the area like to feed rumors that she is still around and alive, despite authorities saying she must have drowned all those years ago. Whatever the case, Ryan is shunned by the locals and plays the loner.
Inevitably, Elissa is interested in Ryan and they strike up a bit of a relationship. Elissa is in the habit of trying to help out kids that are alone or vulnerable, and Ryan is the poster child for that type of nurturing. Elissa is not even afraid when Ryan begins acting a bit strange. It is not long into the movie that we learn Ryan’s murderous sister is living downstairs and the scary parts ensue.
It is right around here where things simply begin to be silly. Lawrence, who plays a street smart, strong lead in the movie, makes some absolutely lame brained decisions. She clearly is facing danger on more than one occasion with options to avoid it, but she goes headlong. Granted that is a staple of the industry, but that is kind of my point. Why? Why not break convention? Also, why make it so painfully obvious that danger is coming? Give it some foreshadowing or slow build…
Instead, they go for the cheap, quick, bump and scream scares that leave you feeling a sudden jolt but nothing afterwards.
The House at the End of the Street was a movie I wanted to love, but I simply can’t. It is a bit below average and only that high because of the actors. Involved.