Review: HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET (2012) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Review: HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET (2012)


RATING: 0.5/5

Shot in summer 2010, but released two years later to capitalize Jennifer Lawrence's mass popularity after making headlines with her Oscar-nominated performance in WINTER'S BONE (2010) and later became an instant superstar for starring in this year's box-office hit, THE HUNGER GAMES. However, her new movie, HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET, is a dreadful psychological thriller that tries too hard to venture into PSYCHO-like territory but comes up terribly short. Interestingly enough, the movie has been heavily promoted with a designated Twitter hashtag under the short title of  #HATES. How ironic!


The movie begins with a hyperactive prologue -- annoyingly shot with lots of blinding strobe lights -- where a psychotic teen massacring her unsuspecting parents one fateful night, before vanishing into the woods. It's certainly a bad start that hardly registers any sense of worthwhile thrills. From there, it never regains its footing and goes downhill all the way.

Flash forward to four years, we are now introduced to a spunky high-school student Elissa (Lawrence) and her recently-divorce mom Sarah Cassidy (Elisabeth Shue), where both of them move into a house at the small Pennsylvania town of Woodshire, in hope to start fresh. But coincidentally, the house next door to them is where the infamous double homicide happened four years earlier. The place is now resided by the elder son, Ryan (Max Thieriot). He's a quiet teenager who is branded an outcast from the rest of the local peoples around. But not for Elissa, who somehow feels sorry for him and gradually drawn to his quiet personality. As their relationship blossoms into two lovebirds, little is known to Elissa that Ryan is actually keeping his thought-dead psychotic sister locked under the basement of his home.

Despite branded as a thriller and carries such title like HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET, it's extremely baffling that the movie is almost suspense-free throughout its wimpy 101-minute running time. Apparently director Mark Tonderai has no idea what makes a good thriller at all. He also has no sense of pacing, while his directing style is a stylistic mess (shaky-cam, Dutch angles, etc.) In the meantime, David Loucka's script (who also wrote last year's equally awful DREAM HOUSE) spends too much time lingering around with its pathetic Hallmark-like storyline involving two lovebirds (Elissa and Ryan) slowly goes wrong. Seriously, the whole movie drags a lot it feels like forever. Even by the time the movie starts to act like a thriller for the final half an hour's mark, it's all too late and too little. Not only that, the climactic payoff is also a huge disappointment. Suspenseful moments are poorly executed in the utmost generic way possible.

Poor Jennifer Lawrence, who is clearly wasted in her otherwise meaty role she could have done better. Instead, Tonderai spends most of the time focusing more on her cleavage shot (a lot of scenes involving her in a tight white top) and little on her dramatic acting skill. As the reclusive Ryan, Max Thieriot is fairly adequate here. And Norman Bates, he is not. Meanwhile, Elisabeth Shue delivers some worthwhile performance as the overprotective mom, Sarah.

HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET is mostly a boring movie. Even with all the twists Tonderai and Loucka thrown in to sustain viewers' interest, particularly at the surprise epilogue, the movie is a colossal waste of time. I guess, if not for Jennifer Lawrence in the credit, this movie should have been dumped for direct-to-DVD release instead.






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