Producers of “House at the End of the Street” couldn’t buy better advertising for their low-budget thriller. First, the movie is given a boost by the success of “The Hunger Games” and the spotlight it shined on Jennifer Lawrence. Secondly, Lawrence wins a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical a mere five days after the movie’s release on Blu-ray and DVD. This further guarantees that more people who weren’t familiar with the star now are and will likely give any project she’s in a chance.
Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) and her mother (Elisabeth Shue) move to the suburbs to start a new life. They lease a home in an upper-middle class neighborhood that’s affordable to them because of the horrific murders that took place in the house next door. A few years before, a girl killed her mother and father there before running out into the woods and disappearing. She’s been long thought dead, but some residents believe she still lives in the woods next to the neighborhood. Elissa befriends the killer’s brother, Ryan (Max Thieriot), against her mother’s wishes. She soon discovers the boy might be hiding a dark secret from her and the rest of the town.
If “House at the End of the Street” is guilty of anything, it’s trying to be everything to everyone. It feels as if writers David Loucka and Jonathan Mostow couldn’t figure out what genre they wanted to tackle, so they just touched on all of them. While sometimes this can work, it really creates a schizophrenic vibe here. They throw in everything AND the kitchen sink. We get a pinch of slasher films, a handful of ingredients from both thriller and suspense movies, and it gets topped off with the recently overused twist ending everyone’s come to expect from these types of movies.
The pacing is erratic under the helm of director Mark Tonderai. However, I’ll give credit where credit is due. The camerawork helps to redeem it by capturing a sense of creepy nostalgia thanks to cinematographer Miroslaw Baszak. He chose to use a type of film that makes it look grainy and similar to older classic horror movies.
Jennifer Lawrence puts forth her best effort in the role of flirty and rebellious teen Elissa. Max Thieriot is convincing as the enigmatic Ryan. He’s both creepy and charming at the same time, which can be hard to pull off by some actors. Elisabeth Shue does an adequate job portraying the concerned, yet distant mother. Although, she sometimes feels a little disconnected from the role.
The high-definition audio and video transfer for the movie is excellent. The grainy, “real” film look isn’t tainted by the Blu-ray treatment. The 5.1 surround mix gives viewers plenty of sounds to immerse themselves in. This is very much a movie that relies on loud bumps and noises for its scares and won’t let the home audience down in that respect.
There’s not much here when it comes to bonus material for the “House at the End of the Street” Blu-ray. They include a near-10-minute”making of” featurette entitled “Journey Into Terror: Inside ‘House at the End of the Street,'” and a theatrical trailer. It also features the unrated and theatrical version of the movie.
I’m not going to say that “House at the End of the Street” doesn’t have some enjoyable moments or isn’t worth your time. It’s just more of the same thing we’ve come to expect from these types of films. It’s like a meal you walk away from full but not satisfied. Nothing you ate was necessarily bad, it just wasn’t fantastic. It’s one of those PG-13 thriller films we’ll see being played repeatedly on the Lifetime Movie Network in a year or so.
“House at the End of the Street” is now available in a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy edition.
For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:
Blu-ray Review: “The Hunger Games”
Josh Hutcherson Talks Filming ‘The Hunger Games,’ Suzanne Collins on Set
Q&A: ‘The Hunger Games’ Star Isabelle Fuhrman Discusses Playing Clove