What was that?
MikeInMotion - wrote on 10/21/12
With a movie that has such a generic title, you might think that itís a red herring. The Cabin in the Woods was a similar situation, and it ended up being one of my favorite horror satires of all-time. House at the End of the Street is not horror satire; in fact, it is the exact kind of movie that horror satires make fun of. However, even though the script is spotty, it still contains some characters I found to be very likeable, and a story that was interesting even if it wasnít executed as well as it could have been.
The movie is a about a teenage girl named Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) that moves into a new neighborhood with her mom. They move right next to a house where a young girl murdered her parents four years ago. Her mother tells her that the drama surrounding that house allowed them to move in next door for a rather affordable price. They believe that this house at the end of the street is vacant; but the mother notices a light turn on in the house around 3 oíclock in the morning. It turns out the son of the murder victims, Ryan, still lives in the house.
Elissa is introduced to a boy that goes to her school, but quickly realizes that he is a jerk and does not want to be involved with his crowd. She is walking home from a party one night, and Ryan offers to give her a ride home. She accepts, eventually, and proceeds to ask him about the story of the murders. He tells her that his sister, Carrie-Anne, got brain damage from falling off a swing. This made her become very aggressive which led to her murdering their parents. He feels responsible because he was helping her go higher than she should have been going on the swing. She quickly learns that he is very troubled, but deep down she feels that he is a good person and she wants to help him.
If it wasnít for Jennifer Lawrence I would not have gotten nearly as much out of this movie as I did. She is extremely likeable and elevates the so-so dialogue so that you at least are interested in what is going on, even if you arenít completely wowed by it. During the more intense scenes towards the end of the film she definitely is allowed to shine a little more and really show what she is capable of doing. This may not be a performance she will be remembered for, but it certainly is one that stands out here. I must also praise the performance of Max Thieriot, who played Ryan. He was very reserved and socially awkward, and was believable as a boy with a rough upbringing. Thieriot portrayed the emotional scars that Ryan had well, and even though he didnít need much range, I still sympathized with his character.
This wasnít nearly as bad as I was expecting it to be. The plot isnít anything revolutionary, but it offered enough interesting elements to keep me watching. Itís unfortunate that the movie squanders a lot of the potential the story did have, and relies on very cheap jump scares to try and rack the tension up. There was potential here for a very good horror movie, but some interesting plot points simply donít get fleshed out enough. House at the End of the Street isnít going to be on any year end lists, but as far as the horror genre goes, you can do a whole lot worse. Even though the execution is spotty and it isnít very scary, I liked some of the pieces to this puzzle, even if they never quite fit together.