This film is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and terror, thematic elements, language, some teen partying and brief drug material.
The film opens like the first draft of a clichéd and formulaic novel — a dark and stormy night. And, there’s murder afoot.
From there, “House at the End of the Street” sways between being a teen angst melodrama and horror film.
New in town, 17-year-old Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) and her recently divorced mother Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) move from Chicago to start a new life in a small town. They find themselves living next door to a house where a mother and father were brutally bludgeoned to death by their crazed daughter. Her older brother Ryan (Max Thieriot) is left behind as the sole survivor.
As a fan of horror, I am well aware that this is not a genre of film that tends to carry much character development, but it is still no excuse for simply throwing out a tired plot device you would find on a cheesy ABC Family teen show.
Mother and daughter are more than welcome to have their problems, especially after a divorce where dad was the clear favorite. However, House is full of too many scenes consisting of mother-daughter bickering that amounts to nothing more than “Ugh, mom. You just don’t understand me,” and the typical parental response of “I’m just trying to protect you.”
Much of that tension begins to build after Elissa begins a relationship with the withdrawn Ryan.
Now, you might be wondering “where is the horror?”
The annoying thing is that you’ll have to wait through the standard horror film high school party, a lot more mother-daughter bickering, a quick bit of horror, more teen drama, and Ryan being picked on, until we finally get the heart-pounding horror towards the end of the film.
But, by this point there isn’t much that needs figuring out – if it at all it did. The only thing holding your interest is whether or not our protagonist will survive this ordeal. However, even that lost my interest with an end-battle very reminiscent of Clarice and Buffalo Bill from 1991’s “The Silence of the Lambs.”
Despite having two very capable actresses, both of whom are Oscar nominees, House falls flat as a horror film and has far too much teen melodrama overshadowing the film.
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