HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET
(PG-13 and unrated)
MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
You’ve really got to hand it to Jennifer Lawrence. Not only did her impressive early role in “Winter’s Bone” earn her an Oscar nomination, she was able to spin it into a successful movie career in both blockbusters and otherwise so-called respectable films.
In fact, 2012 was a banner year for her, after 2011 gave her plenty to work with. After all, she headlined one of the highest-grossing films of the year (“The Hunger Games”) and managed to get oodles of nominations – including another Oscar nod – for “Silver Linings Playbook.” It only seems natural to balance that out with a softball teen horror flick.
While I was not a fan of “Silver Linings Playbook,” her turn in “House at the End of the Street” was easily her worst performance of the year. It’s not that she is particularly bad in the film; she just isn’t given much to work with.
Lawrence plays Elissa, a girl who moves into a small town with her mother (Elisabeth Shue). They’re able to make such an apparently expensive move because the property values in the neighborhood have dropped after a murder took place at the house next door. Elissa, prone to rebellion, strikes up a relationship with the son (Max Thieriot) of the murdered family. However, she doesn’t realize that he’s harboring a greater secret in the house.
“House at the End of the Street” is exactly what you’d expect from a PG-13 horror movie dropped in September. There’s really nothing particularly scary about it, and the story ranges from shaky to thin. That’s not to say that PG-13 movies can’t give you some chills. Instead, the approach the film takes feels more cut out for a TV movie that airs on CW (if those were actually made).
The horror elements in the film are derivative of much better movies, like “Psycho.” It packs very little punch, and it’s poorly constructed from a director’s standpoint. In particular, when secrets and twists are revealed, they’re done so in a lazy and unsurprising manner.
It’s not that “House on the End of the Street” can’t find an audience. It’s that even the casual viewer of horror films will likely be bored and insulted by it.
The Blu-ray looks fine, though the gritty and blood-scratched presentation both in the menus and the cover box hints at a stronger movie than what you get. This cuts negatively both ways: horror fans who respond to that will be disappointed, while the young teen audience it would connect with might be turned off.
The package also comes with a DVD and Digital Copy. Aside from a slate of trailers, there’s almost no bonus content, save a behind-the-scenes video called “Journey Into Terror: Inside House at the End of the Street.” It is, however, presented with either the theatrical or unrated version, the latter of which promises a shocking twist… but honestly, I was too disinterested to watch the movie twice to tell the difference.