Jennifer Lawrence decided not to save her best for last this year.
“House at the End of the Street” follows Elissa, played by “Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence, as a young high school student who has just moved into a new town. Upon arrival at her new house, she and her mother Sarah, played by Elisabeth Shue, are informed about the history of the neighboring house. Years ago, a murder occurred where a mother and a father were killed by their own daughter. The son, who was living out of town at the time, inherited the house and now lives there on his own and the daughter was reported as having gone missing and eventually died.
The son named Ryan, portrayed by Max Thieriot, has now for the most part become a shut-in, young man who doesn’t leave his house much, however, eventually he meets Elissa and the two start a relationship. Ryan is actually hiding a dark secret in the basement of his house.
The story for “House at the End of the Street” is predictable throughout. While watching it, it’s easy to spot when someone will go into a spot they shouldn’t go or when a cell phone will ring and alert someone. This causes the movie for the most part to fall on a flat note since its ability to create a scary atmosphere is greatly diminished. Instead the only thing it really has is the slow musical build up until something jumps out at you.
The problem is that these ‘jump scares’ shock a person in the moment but don’t really add to the tension and the scariness doesn’t linger. What helps the film by a slim margin is the twist that is inserted towards the end, which actually took me by surprise. The twist was good, creepy however it’s not enough to save the entire film.
The acting from everyone in the production seem to be mediocre at best. Lawrence manages to work with what she has here, delivering her performance well. However, the character she is portraying just doesn’t have much depth. The character of Elissa is really just an average teen horror lead that has been seen before. Max Thieriot is alright as well.
He’s able to play a creepy character and bring a sort of Norman Bates style to it which helps. What hurts the film is the supporting cast. There are high school bullies, a sheriff who is investigating the recent goings on, and Elissa’s mother, all of whom just feel dull and the characters seem so stock.
“House at the End of the Street” is by no means a good movie. It has an over-predictable story and the acting doesn’t hold any weight, and there are things here that could have made a better product. Maybe if the film’s plot had been structured to focus more on the background with the twist that happened and less on Elissa’s story it could have worked a little better. “House” gets a 2 out of 5, spared a one mainly because of the interesting twist and okay acting from Lawrence and Thieriot.
This review was first published in the Sept. 30, 2012 issue of the Wahpeton Daily News.