House at the End of the Street is a 2012 Horror/Thriller written by David Loucka and directed by Mark Tonderai based on the short story by Jonathan Mostow. I was hopping for more out of this film as it stars Jennifer Lawrence, it’s high gross at the box office and having spent nine years in development. But even with its long stint in development hell and starring one of my current favorite leading ladies, I have to say that House at the End of the Street was a let down. Not for one glaring reason, but for a number of smaller more unobtrusive ones. For once I agree with the majority of critics on that this film comes off as very by the numbers.
House at the End of the Street opens with the murders of Mary (Krista Bridges) and John Jacobson (John Healy) by their daughter Carrie Anne who escapes into the woods behind the home. Four years later, Sarah Cassidy (Elisabeth Shue) and her daughter Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) move into the home next to where the Jacobson’s were murdered by their daughter. Living in the home now is the Jacobson’s son Ryan (Max Thieriot), who was away at the time of the murders. Ryan is an outsider in the community as he refuses to leave his home, which is all he has left to remember his family. The community sees the house as a sore memory that is driving down the property values of their homes. Against her mothers wishes Elissa and Ryan start to develop a friendship, that leads Elissa to believe that Ryan knows more about his parents murder and his sister who was never captured.
My main issue with this film is it squanders a good if not generic premise. The writing is below average and very predictable, sadly implementing a number of overused tropes, in a number of cliche ways. The cast does do the best they can with what they have. I say this with special emphasis on Jennifer Lawrence’s performance. Upon my initial viewing this film I wasn’t impressed. Although the more I thought about it, I realized she just didn’t have much to work with. None of the actors did, this stands out most notably with the minor characters as they come in and out and serve little to no purpose, acting with little to no motivation. I’m a fan of simple story lines as long as they focus on interesting characters. House at the End of the Street feels like it’s just meandering for the first 60 minutes before it decides what it wants to do.
I did enjoy that the film was shot in 2-perf Techniscope format for a grainier feel, reminiscent of old horror films. This does come across well as it does feel like it’s older than it is. Having been filmed in 2010, before Lawrence filmed The Hunger games. Although it was released after. I could understand the generic feel of film had it been from an earlier era, say from the late 80s to early 90s. But this film was two decades later than this and with nine years to come up with a script it should have been better than this.
The other sad part is the neighborhood itself is largely unseen and much of the time is spent in the woods. These scenes play in little to the story. When they do, they provided some of the few moments of interesting character interaction and development. This is mostly due to the work of Lawrence and Thieriot playing so well off one another. If it wasn’t for the these two I probably wouldn’t have bothered with the film in the first place.
Now final thought’s, this film was below average at best. Despite the efforts of Lawrence and horror veteran Thieriot trying to salvage it. Once the film tries to pick speed, it does so far too late and offers very little in the way of actual scares or suspense. The twists are far too blatant and when they do come they miss the mark, leaving a bland taste in their wake. Sadly this film commits one of the worst offenses for a horror film or any film for that matter can commit, it’s boring. It offers nothing new to the genre. Sadly, I have to saddle with the low score of a 3/10.