House at the End of the Street (2012)
By: J.R. McNamara on February 11, 2013 | Comments
Roadshow | Region B | 2.35:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 110 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Mark Tonderai
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue, Max Thieriot,Gil Bellows, Eva Link
Screenplay: David Loucka
Country: USA
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Many vintage horror films were aimed at an adult audience, but in the early 80s when home video took off and younger viewers who probably shouldn't be watching some of these films (like me back then) were able to get their grubby little mitts on them, a new market rose: horror aimed at teenagers. This of course gave us some of the great horror films of the time, but unfortunately, with a little early 90s PC thrown in, horror films became much, much softer!

So with this in mind, somewhere within the post 2000 slew of remakes (like the miserable Prom Night remake) and the rehashes (the Rear Window riffing, but not too bad Disturbia) comes the Psycho-wannabe House at the End of the Street.

Schoolgal Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence, who for those that don't know is today's 'Hot Young Actress') and her newly divorced and totally delicious mum Sarah (former 'Hot Young Actress' Elizabeth Shue) have moved to a new town to restart their lives. Across the woods is a house where several years earlier, a young girl killed her mother and father, and now only the surviving son, Ryan (Max Thieriot, wearing fake teeth that look like something a Toddlers and Tiaras Mom would force their child to wear) lives there alone. Typically of a girl in a teen film Elissa is attracted to this young man whose family history has made him somewhat of an outcast, and as they get closer she discovers he has a terrible secret. What she doesn't know however is that that secret covers a more chilling secret, that must be kept… um… secret.

Now to give the studio's marketing department some credit, they've slapped this package with a title that evokes 70s exploitation fare like The Last House on the Left, but that is where the similarities end in this made-for-TV-ish thriller. Be warned! If anything this film is more Flowers in the Attic than House on the Edge of the Park.

Visually, House at the End of the Street boasts some picturesque cinematography, and Jennifer Lawrence, who looks like a hot version of Renee Zellweger, is no small part of that. Occasionally the lensing does resort to the music video quick cut rubbish, but generally more old fashioned filmmaking techniques are maintained. The main settings – the two houses and the woods between them – are great locations, and the director has to be given credit for creating a vast landscape outside of the house that makes the interiors even more cramped and uncomfortable.

Cast wise, the actors all turn in acceptable performances. It does my teen heart well to see Elizabeth Shue's career getting a second wind, and Max Thieriot, a young actor who I liked in kiddie fare once watched with my daughter like Catch that Kid and Nancy Drew, does a fine job as a moody, Anthony Perkins type. Gil Bellows, from The Shawshank Redemption, is also quite good as Shue's potential new love interest (small town cops love a fresh divorcee) but the star is obviously Lawrence, who isn't quite up to her role as Katness in The Hunger Games where she really shone, but she still steals every scene. Especially whilst running in a tank top. To be honest though, the script doesn't give the cast a whole lot to work with here.

Which is where my 'but' comes into it. My main problem with House at the End of the Street is the clichéd and unimaginative screenplay. All too often 'things' happen that do drive the story forward, but they never feel like original ideas. In actual fact the entire film feels like an amalgamation of all the aforementioned remakes and rehashes, with a bucket load of 'safe' horror elements thrown in. Even the characters are stereotypes that never waver from what is expected of them. Add to that some awkward dialogue and it makes me think that perhaps the scriptwriter doesn't think too much of audience intelligence.

One good thing is when the secrets are revealed, they aren't M. Night left-of-field gob-smackers, but instead a collection of crafty twists that do add something to the story, and that almost helps this uninspired and derivative piece of lite horror entertainment break even.
The Disc
As one would expect from a new film released on blu-ray the sharp and colourful 2.35:1 image is impeccable, while the lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack creates an immersive atmosphere with its busy use of ambient sound effects.

There's only one extra on this disc, and that is Journey Into Terror: Inside The House At The End Of The Street. It's one of those generic making of things that really is just a bunch of people rubbing each other's rhubarbs, and commenting on how talented each other are, but you won't learn anything about filmmaking or get any insights into the trials an actor goes through to play a role when you watch it. There are also trailers for LOL and Cosmopolis. This review disc was an initial release copy and came with a digital version which may not be present in future releases.
The Verdict
House at the End of the Street is a well-acted and generally well filmed piece of work that, aside from a few jump scares, feels quite empty. It is, however worth it for Jennifer Lawrence, who is a special effect unto herself.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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