Not so much a horror. Not so much a thriller. Not quite a suspense and not really a psychopathic drama. So what is this movie? A whole lot of almosts: it almost scared me, it almost had me believing in the characters, and, after a little while, it almost made me give up and watch The Hunger Games instead. The House at the End of the Street drags on just like its title and has you wondering every ten minutes or so, “is this when it starts to get scary?” The tone of the film is sluggish and drab, but not because of the acting – let’s be clear. The actors do the best they can, given the circumstances. You can tell they try to breathe life into the words, but the script itself is merciless, giving them little more than dry, state-the-obvious lines. The best part of the movie is the climax when the dialogue is abandoned in favour of screaming and muffled breathing. Like I said, the actors do their very best.
Neighbourhood horror stories never happen in a place where the main character has lived for years. If you have ever relocated you know that moving day can be traumatic enough without murderous teenagers staring at you through peep holes, or spirits of the damned flushing the upstairs toilet. In House at the End of the Street, Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) moves to a new home with her mom, Sarah (Elizabeth Shue), in a lovely community with breathtaking nature and colouful stories of children murdering their parents. Quaint. 17-year-old, friendless Elissa instantly gravitates towards the weirdest guy in town, Ryan (Max Thieriot). Beyond strange, Ryan is a little messed up – living through your mentally unstable little sister killing your drug addicted parents will apparently to things to a person. But Elissa, at odds with her mother, will do just about anything to piss her off – including hanging with the creeper who still lives in his family’s murder house.
I understand that in horror movies nothing ever goes right for the protagonist. But once, and I mean just once could somebody find a working flashlight? If you’re a cop whose jurisdiction is in the woods don’t you think it would be a good idea to CHECK THE BATTERIES!? I have also come to the conclusion that truly stupid people (those who accept rides from obvious stalkers) belong in bloody horror flicks. It’s just not smart to ostracize the kid who lost his parents to his blood-thirsty sister. That lingering trauma may eventually bubble up in the most predictable way.
I can’t say I had high hopes for the movie to begin with, but I can say it fell below my expectations. There is one twist that’s a godsend breath of fresh air, but after that it falls back to the colourless routine. The cinematography is a pass but the script is a fail, making the “street” one of the many things missing from House at the End of the Street. 3/10.