"House at the End of the Street" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
It seriously makes me wonder what was going through the heads of everyone involved in 2012's "House at the End of the Street", especially Jennifer Lawrence who was just coming off the success of the first entry in the global phenomenon, "The Hunger Games". I'm not sure exactly what this lame excuse of a horror film was trying to do, but what director Mark Tonderai and screenwriters David Loucka and Jonathan Mostow delivered was an abomination, with literally no redeeming qualities about the film whatsoever.
The film opens with a young girl, who is clearly possessed by extremely dark and demonic thoughts, killing both of her parents in cold blood. The horrific act creates a presence around the neighborhood, especially the house as the son in the family, Ryan (Max Thieriot) decides to stay in the house his parents were murdered in. Now four years after the events on that one night, newly-divorced mother Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) and her daughter, Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence), move into the house next door, hoping to start a new life for themselves.
However, when Elissa starts to become comfortable around Ryan and more dark secrets start getting revealed, her mother starts to become super protective for the first time in Elissa's life, making her act out and disobey to peeve her mother. What she doesn't realize is that her doing this may put her n harm's way, and she may just be the next victim in the house where two parents were brutally murdered.
This movie doesn't sound very original at all, but they had a lot here to work with. They could have gone down a path that many films have never done before, but decide to half-ass the whole movie, wasting almost every talented person working on this film. I mean, come on, we have Chris from "Adventures in Babysitting" and Katniss from "The Hunger Games" as the main characters, but they're practically horrible in this film. I don't think it is their fault at all, but rather Tonderai's, who tried to steer this film in his own, edgy way.
It simply doesn't work. Whether you want to blame the story, the direction, or the cinematography (even though all of the above should be heavily blamed for this film), there is nothing here fun or thrilling about the final product. There is no way anyone could have ever gotten scared watching this film, and it's embarrassing to categorize this as a horror or a thriller. It seems like Tonderai wanted to make a film that is a call-back to those 90's teen thrillers, like "Cruel Intentions". My hypothesis is further approved as the main character Ryan is literally fashioned to look like Ryan Phillippe in "Cruel Intentions", as well as sharing the name of the actor.
Whether they tried to do this or not doesn't matter, but rather it could have worked a lot better if the story was actually good. The screenplay and dialogue is laughable, and there is really nothing of substance that happens here. The movie just kind of muddles its way throughout the entire runtime, combining a bunch of good ideas that were executed horribly and have no correlation to one another. There is nothing to gain from watching this film, and it is honestly a waste of time. It's amazing to me that a studio actually took a chance on this film and director due to how bad it is story-wise. There are cases where the movie is ruined because of the director's vision for it, but there was no saving this one from the start.
At the same time, the performances here are abysmal. Every single one is incredibly fake, and are simply just very annoying. I think Lawrence is a fantastic actress, but I'm simply just not sure what happened here. The film wants you to be able to relate to these characters and feel bad for them, but it is simply impossible due to how annoying they really are. This can be said about any other actor who tries to give a decent performance here. I can't say for sure if it is all of their faults or not, but whatever it was was a massive misfire on every level possible.
I enjoy campy thrillers that only serve as a good time for friends or couples to go see on a Friday night, but this is just something else. This is honestly painful to watch, and there is nothing about this movie that could redeem it whatsoever. Like I said, I'm not sure what anybody was thinking when making this film, but it is honestly a tragedy for horror cinema that this movie was even allowed to be released, especially with talented actresses involved.