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"HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET"
(2012) (Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Horror/Thriller: A mother and her teenage daughter move next door to a house that was the site of a double murder years earlier, and they learn that one of the family members still lives there.
PLOT:
Sarah (ELISABETH SHUE), a newly divorced mother, looks to make a fresh start with her teenage daughter, Elissa (JENNIFER WARREN), in small-town Pennsylvania. She rents a large house on a wooded lot that she would never be able to afford if it weren't for the fact that a mother and father were bludgeoned to death in the house next door years earlier. Even more chilling, the murders were committed by their brain-damaged daughter, Carrie Anne (EVA LINK), who drowned soon after.

Sarah and Elissa were told the stigmatized house was vacant, but they soon learn that one member of the tragic family still lives there. It's the dead couple's college-age son, Ryan (MAX THIERIOT), who has become the town outcast in the year since his parents' murders. Whenever he does show his face around town, he is usually bullied by high-school jock Tyler (NOLAN GERARD FUNK) and his friends.

As a result, Ryan likes to keep to himself in that house, but is soon attracted to outsider Elissa. Not long after, though, we learn that all is not as it seems in Ryan's house. And what is really going on will eventually put the lives of Elissa, Sarah, and friendly local police officer Bill (GIL BELLOWS) in mortal jeopardy.

OUR TAKE: 4.5 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that are shown the night before theatrical release to critics is that we'll only provide two or three paragraphs about the film's artistic merits.

"House at the End of the Street" is one of those movies that maps out several smart, clever plot twists, but forgets to make the actual characters at the mercy of these twists smart or clever. Time and again, people do really stupid things just to keep the movie going. But the filmmakers try and get around that by casting respected, highly intelligent actors to try and hoodwink us into following them into that creepy house, down into that dark basement, into that secret cellar with the strange sounds.

Jennifer Lawrence stars as Elissa, a teenage girl who has moved to small-town Pennsylvania with her nurse mom (Elisabeth Shue) soon after her parents' divorce. They have rented a fine home for cheap because it sits adjacent to another house where a brain-damaged teenage girl bludgeoned her mom and dad to death years earlier. Her surviving brother, Ryan (Max Thieriot), still lives in the adjacent house and Elissa slowly becomes attracted to him. From there, dark secrets are slowly revealed and Elissa is put in harm's way.

I know that with these kinds of flicks, there would be no movie if the people in them weren't simpletons. But this one actually aspired to be a bit better than those cookie-cutter horror-thrillers. While it's rare a flick like this gets actresses the caliber of past Oscar nominees Lawrence and Shue, in this case, the great casting works against the film in that we just have too much respect for them to buy them in this B movie idiocy. And it's not even really a House at the End of the Street! It's more like The Wooded Lot Off the Main Road With the Poorly Lit Split-Level. Buyer beware! I rate it a 4.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed September 20, 2012 / Posted September 21, 2012


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