Oscar-nominee Jennifer Lawrence headlines this weekend’s House at the End of the Street. The film, directed by Mark Tonderai, is inspired by vintage horror from the ’70s. It has all the stereotypical elements found in movies like The Last House on the Left and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but something’s lacking. House at the End of the Street has no voice and doesn’t take itself seriously.

The Players:

  • Director: Mark Tonderai
  • Screenwriter: David Loucka, Jonathan Mostow (story)
  • Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Max Thieriot, Elisabeth Shue, Gil Bellows, Eva Link, Nolan Gerard Funk, Allie MacDonald
  • Cinematography by: Miroslaw Baszak
  • Original Music by: Theo Green

The Plot:

Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) and her recently divorced mother (Elisabeth Shue) relocate to a small, rural town. Upon their arrival, they quickly learn one of their neighbors has a dark past. Ryan (Max Thieriot) is the sole survivor of the Jacobson family, which was destroyed when his sister (Carrie Ann) murdered their parents. He’s the town pariah, but Elissa believes he’s the victim of unfortunate circumstance. Despite multiple warnings, her and Ryan grow closer and she’s roped into a situation that puts her life in danger.

The Good:

  • Effort: The creatives behind House at End of the Street tried. They tried to make something filled with twists and jump-scares. They achieved the latter, but the former wasn’t so lucky. Despite the disappointing nature of the story, they deserve credit for attempting to be surprising in the end.

The Bad:

  • Cliches: Everything that Wes Craven‘s Scream pokes fun at, is in this movie. Each character is an archetype: the mysterious loner, the rebellious teenage girl, the obnoxious jock, the absentee parent, the oblivious sheriff, etc. You name it they’re in this film.
  • Lack of Originality: Over the past decade, how many movies have we seen that center on a young woman that looks like Samara from The Ring? At some point, girls with steely eyes and long hair obscuring their faces became the norm. We’ve seen that too many times in this genre and it doesn’t work anymore.
  • Story: As I mentioned earlier in the Good section, the writers tried to do something interesting towards the end of the film. Unfortunately, it didn’t pay off. It didn’t have a proper build-up and the big reveal seemed like something they threw in at the last minute.
  • Performances: House at the End of the Street has some extremely bland performances. It’s as if the actors knew they were in a B-level horror film, and refused to commit to their roles. There’s a strange, ironic detachment that everyone has, which takes the weight out of the story. Instead of a scene being terrifying, it comes across as comical. If they don’t believe it, how can the audience?

Overall:

If you’re interested in a horror film with genuine scares and real stakes, skip this. House of the End of the Street has no identity, bad direction and a flawed execution.

The Rating: 2/10

House at the End of the Street opens in theaters September 21, 2012.

Photo Gallery:

 

Trailer:

 

Will you be seeing House at the End of the Street this weekend?