Arts & Entertainment

'House at the End of the Street' Pleasantly Surprises

Reel Reviews
Movie: The "House at the End of the Street" pleasantly surprises
September 26, 2012
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Marketed as a horror movie with fairly misleading and vague trailers, "House at the End of the Street" is simultaneously everything and nothing you expect it to be. Most of the theater patrons in my showing appeared to believe that they knew what the film was going to be about, but as the movie got going were surprised at how different it was, plot-wise, from what their preconceived notions were.

Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence of "Hunger Games" fame) and her mother Sarah ("Adventures in Babysitting’s" Elisabeth Shue) move from Chicago to middle of nowhere, any town, USA. Their new house, hidden away at the end of a street in the middle of the woods, only has one neighbor in close proximity and they are told by their realtor that no one lives in it; oh, if only that was the actual case. At a neighborhood picnic the gossipy townsfolk tell the new arrivals that the empty house was the site of a gruesome double murder where a little girl named Carrie Anne (Eva Link) murdered her parents and then ran away; she is presumed dead. The only surviving member of the family is Ryan ("Jumper’s" Max Thieriot), a college student who shows up to his family’s old house every now and again in a bid to fix it up so that he can sell it.

Elissa befriends the lonely Ryan and the two become romantically involved. As his relationship with the girl next door grows, Ryan finds it increasingly more challenging to hide certain elements of his life from his new beau, including his very much alive sister, Carrie Anne.    

To be fair the movie is far less horror and far more thriller than anything else although even the thrills are cheap. It is a movie squarely targeted towards the demographic of tweens and young teenagers that helped put Jennifer Lawrence into the mainstreams consciousness with the Hunger Games. The main cast all give solid performances, even while delivering some cringe worthy dialogue on occasion. Lawrence and Thieriot play off each other well and are believable as teenagers and outcasts in their own ways. Thieriot’s tortured, lost boy draws equal parts sympathy and creep factor from the audience and Lawrence proves good at being unnerved and frightened.

The plot is basic and there are clichés all over, it is in no way perfect and you certainly do not need to think too hard about it, but it is a fun popcorn movie if predictable. As the plot points roll out, there is always an edge of being close to an overarching secret that one of the characters is holding onto and when it is finally revealed, right before the film cuts to the credits, it is well worth the price of admission; the entire audience at my showing seemed surprised at the reveal and were in no way disappointed with the ending.    

"House at the End of the Street" runs 101 minutes and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and terror, thematic elements, language, some teen partying and brief drug material. It is in theaters now.

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