Every house has a secret. That’s one of the taglines you may have seen float across your screen as the trailer for House at the End of the Street acted as a buffer while the NFL replacement refs needed more time to look at a replay. The only secret in the bloated 101 minute running time of House at the End of the Street is, how on earth did anyone get this much attention brought to such a run of the mill snoozer.
Four years have passed since a young girl murdered her parents in the house next door to the one Sarah and Elissa Cassidy (Elisabeth Shue and Jennifer Lawrence) have just moved into. Peering out of her window after being woken at 3am, Sarah sees a light come on in that house next door, the house she was told was unoccupied. Low and behold, the murdered couple’s son who was living with his aunt that fateful night came back shortly after the murders to live in the home. An outcast to the neighborhood, Ryan (Max Thieriot) becomes the focus of young Elissa’s time. Partly to piss off her mother, and partly out of pity, Elissa warms up to Ryan, even though she has some early doubts, and tons of questions for the strange kid. Things are not as they seem though, and as quickly as Sarah and Elissa moved in, things begin to come unhinged.
House at the End of the Street is half, petty quarrels, and half sub standard slasher fodder. “Cooking is the one thing Dad taught me.” “You mean boiling water and opening a jar?” “Well you were never around too, mom.” “But that is going to change.” “Is it?” “I’m just trying to protect you.” “I’m not a whore like you were mom!” Congratulations, you’ve just experienced the dearth of originality and flare regarding the exposition and character models offered by House at the End of the Street. New girl who doesn’t quite fit in, divorced mother fawning over the local fuzz, a strange kid the girl warms up to even though he is that fucking strange; there must be a paint by numbers scary movie bible that someone places in writer’s rooms. As with any mystery creeper, there’s a twist to be had. Clumsy and goofy in its presentation, House at the End of the Street crumbles a heaping load of contradictory information along the way, hampering the already opaque story.
Jennifer Lawrence may have already struck gold with her Winter’s Bone performance, but her hiring and set time on this film preceded her role in The Hunger Games. Being the case, many might walk out of House at the End of the Street thinking, “why would she agree to be in such a trivial throw away?” Whether that registers with you or not, the change in release date for this film (originally April) was certainly a marketing ploy to cash in on the success of The Hunger Games and the mainstream media darling Lawrence has become. In reality, it just opens the film up to an even harsher lashing.
For awhile, House at the End of the Street had been pumped up as some grand new experience in terror, something that will shock audiences like the original Last House on the Left did in the 70s (title coincidence anyone?), and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Quick, loud staccato downbeats will accompany something or someone flying into frame in an attempt to shock a response out of you. However, if you’ve seen it before, you’ll be slumped in your seat, possibly sleeping, as another film filled with stupid people doing stupid things, passes by.
Rating: 1 and a half out of 5 ‘Staches