What is is about divorce, weird kids and creepy houses that always seem to go together in modern horror movies? I’m sure that there is some sort of sociological explanation for this phenomena, but I really wish that Hollywood would experiment with some other recipes, because House at the End of the Street dishes up just another tired plot, straight from the cookie-cutter.
House at the End of the Street stars the gifted young actress Jennifer Lawrence, who by now is synonymous with her role as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. In fact, this movie was originally slated for release last April, around the same time as Hunger Games; and it’s not a coincidence that Lawrence gives both films the same edgy but young adult feel.
Lawrence excels in playing strong but vulnerable young women and she does a great job in this movie, playing Elissa Cassidy, who has just moved into a new town with her recently divorced mother, Sarah (Elisabeth Shue). The two move into a house that is surrounded by woods, but is also very close to a house where a double-murder occurred.
Jennifer Lawrence is so closely associated with Katniss now that as she was walking through the woods in this movie I kept expecting her to pull out a bow & arrow and throw-down with whatever that thing is out there. It would be a shame to see Lawrence become so typecast, as she really is a very good actress.
Max Thieriot plays Ryan Jacobson, the only survivor of the family who owned the creepy House at the End of the Street. He was out of town when his sister killed his parents and ran away only to die herself near the local reservoir. Or did she? Her body was never found and to tell any more would spoil the film. That’s not to say that the convoluted plot that follows from this point doesn’t also ruin the movie.
You know when they “give up the ghost” early in the film that there are bound to be more twists and turns ahead. The question is always how believable the surprises will be and whether or not they will shock you when they happen. If you’ve ever watched a genre movie like House at the End of the Street before, then you’re in for nothing new here.
The background narrative of this film seems to be ripped straight from a young adult novel. There are the new kid at school scenes, the uncomfortable party where all the teens are drinking, the jerky rich kid, starting a band and Elissa falling for the outcast kid, Ryan. I’m certain that the audience who loved Hunger Games for its young adult appeal, coupled with and the drawing power that Jennifer Lawrence now commands, will make this movie successful – whether it deserves it or not.
There are fine performances by Lawrence, Shue and Thieriot, who do pretty darn good given the weak material they have to deal with and Shue & Lawrence are perfectly matched as a mother and teenage daughter. Thieriot is equal parts strange and sympathetic as the poor kid who lost his parents and is shunned by his neighbors because his presence reduces their property values.
There are plenty of plot holes in this street that can’t be mentioned, and one could easily tear this House down, but if you are a Jennifer Lawrence and young adult drama fan, you will probably enjoy this movie. All others beware – this House should be condemned. Grade: 4/10