I’m not a fan of horror films. I don’t particularly enjoyed being scared, partly because I scare easily. I took stories about monsters under my bed way too seriously as a kid because I’m pretty sure they still live there.
That being said, when a new scary movie comes out and I actually want to see it, that tells you something about the power of a trailer. “House at the End of the Street” was one of those movies. I was nervous going in, but I had nothing to worry about. It turned out not to be scary … AT ALL.
Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) and her mom Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) have just moved from Chicago to a small suburban Pennsylvania town. They got a great deal on a big house in a nice neighborhood because there was a double-homicide in the house next door four years ago.
Elissa befriends her new neighbor Ryan (Max Thieriot), the sole survivor of his little sister Carrie Anne’s violent rampage where she killed their parents then ran into the woods, where she’s rumored to still live. Ryan is the town outcast for obvious reasons, but is there more lurking under his quiet demeanor? Will Elissa heed her mother’s warnings to be careful? What happened to Carrie Anne?
Oh no. What will happen? The suspense is killing me.
Jennifer Lawrence is kind of the “it” girl at the moment. “Winter’s Bone” made her a critic darling and her roles in “X-Men” and “The Hunger Games” brought her to the forefront of popular culture. And with good reason, she’s a talented actress and always a strong female protagonist. She’s fine here too. Very believeable.
Shue and Thieriot play their parts well too. Thieriot gives off a sometimes creepy, sometimes sweet, sometimes sad vibe that makes you want to help him and run away from him at the same time. That’s hard to do.
The problem was the script. It was boring. The entire thing was a slow build-up to maybe 5 minutes of semi-intense action. What a waste. I’d check the time only to be disappointed it wasn’t later into the 100 minute runtime.
There’s unanswered questions about Elissa and Sarah’s backstory and their rocky relationship which is hinted at but never explained. There are some side characters at Elissa’s schools that are really only there to bug-out there eyes whenever they see Ryan so the audience knows he’s supposed to weird us out.
Oh! And there’s a “surprise” twist ending that provides zero shock value. Only those who have never been to a movie ever wouldn’t be able to predict the ending.
If this is what all “scary” movies are like nowadays I may have to rethink my position on going to them. This wasn’t even enjoyable on a cheesy, so-bad-it’s-good level. It was just bad and kind of fitting the the acronym for this movie is “HATES.”
- HATES Isn’t What It Seems (dwmagnusson.com)
- Review: House at the End of the Street Is a Dead End (wired.com)