House At The End Of The Street Directed by: Mark Tonderai
Written by: David Loucka, Jonathan Mostow
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Max Thieriot, Gil Bellows, Elisabeth Shue
Relativity Media | Rogue
Rated PG-13 | 101 Minutes
Release Date: September 21, 2012
Directed by Mark Tonderai, with a script by David Loucka (Dream House) based on a short story by Jonathan Mostow, House At The End Of The Street stars Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) and Elisabeth Shue (Piranha).
How many times must we watch a horror movie where the premise is, “Someone was killed in that house…” or “They never found the body,” as if all across the country single mothers and their daughters are moving next door to the friendly neighborhood Murder House?
The House at the End of the Street is the latest in a long-running tradition of bad things happening in houses on streets. Of course there’s Wes Craven’s 1972 exploitation film, The Last House on the Left and his 1984 classic, A Nightmare on Elm Street. Actually, considering 1991’s People Under the Stairs is also by Craven, that guy might have a serious issue with houses.
Let’s not forget 1977’s Last House on Dead End Street (originally released in 1974 as The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell), which I only mention because of the awful title(s) and a plot that involves snuff films and power drills. Knowing Hollywood, we’ll probably see a remake of The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell after the next batch of Paranormal Activity sequels.
The House at the End of the Street tells the story of Sarah (Shue) and Elissa (Lawrence), a mother and daughter who move to a new town and find themselves living next door to a house where a young girl, Carrie Anne (Eva Link), murdered her parents. Carrie Anne disappeared, some say she drowned – others say she stalks the woods doing creepy girl shit like running around screaming in a nightgown and killing people.
Turns out there’s more to the story, as Elissa befriends Carrie Anne’s surviving brother, Ryan (Max Thieriot), a sad-but-sweet guy who just happens to be devastatingly handsome in a Twilight kind of way. Ryan is a mysterious, misunderstood kid who just happens to keep his still-alive, mentally ill sister in the basement where he sedates her with drugs and keeps her under lock and key.
Everything’s going great until Carrie Anne escapes and starts fuckin’ shit up for the whole town again. House At The End Of The Street is rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of violence and terror, thematic elements, language, some teen partying and brief drug material,” which is total bullshit. There isn’t one moment of this tedious, flat-out boring movie that is intense or involves any such elements of terror. This is a completely generic, gutless horror film made for pre-teens with Hunger Games slap bracelets and Twilight lunch boxes.
And it’s a shame, considering Jennifer Lawrence could be a fantastic ‘Final Girl.” With her physicality, beauty, and talent as an actress, Lawrence could easily be this generation’s Jamie Lee Curtis or Sigourney Weaver, an unsuspecting girl who becomes a badass and fights monsters in the dark. Instead, Lawrence is coerced into participating in Jessica Biel’s school of slasher cinema, running around in a tight, white tanktop (I’m not complaining, honestly) making one dumb decision after another.
I’ve seen a fair amount of horror films this year: The Cabin in the Woods, Lovely Molly, V/H/S, Intruders, The Woman in Black, The Innkeepers, and House At The End Of The Street (or HATES, if you prefer ridiculous acronyms) is at the bottom of the barrel. And again, it’s a shame because Lawrence does a serviceable job of breathing life into this entirely flimsy, by-the-numbers movie – as does Thieriot who plays a character that’s somewhere in between Norman Bates and Patrick Bateman.
My advice, if you absolutely must watch a film that involves a house on a street, stick with the classics – you’d be better off watching a double feature of House and House II: The Second Story than visiting House At The End Of The Street. Though I must say, Jennifer Lawrence looks pretty fantastic running around in that tight, white tanktop…