You have to wonder how such an awful, cheesy script managed to make its way into the cinema without someone shouting “hang on a minute…”. Underneath all the cheese is supposedly a suspense horror movie, like a tasteless dough that leaves you endlessly chewing its predictably stodgy ingredients without so much as a tangy tomato sauce to take you by surprise. The cheese is fatty and gloppy and you finish feeling bloated and lethargic but completely unfulfilled.
House At The End Of The Street attempts lame jump scares, lacks ideas and swaps them for caricatures and completely undeveloped (as opposed to underdeveloped) characters. Genre conventions are rife and poorly executed twists are sign posted and underwhelming in another poor derivative of Hitchcock’s Psycho.
17 year old Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) has just moved into a new town with her stupidly annoying over-protective mother (Elisabeth Shue) and they soon learn a young girl killed her parents in the house next door. Spooky! You have to marvel at the originality.
Still living in the house is the surviving son (Max Thieriot). Elissa befriends him by going over to his house, pointing at his photographs and making comments along the lines of “your parents are dead”. Charming. It’s laughable really and there was a fair amount of giggling going on in the cinema when it really wasn’t meant to be funny. Elissa’s meant to be the heart of the film who we can care about while the horror unfolds but when she’s not making bizarre comments highlighting a character’s dead relatives for the sake of exerting clumsy exposition, she’s just hideously bland. I don’t blame Lawrence so much, although how a bright young thing like herself could have read this script and thought it was a good idea is beyond me. There’s no surprise the film shares its screenwriter with recent flop Dream House, both in terms of story content and messy writing – the parallels are abound. Anyway, all is not how it seems in the House At The End Of The Street and spookiness, chases and jump scares ensue.
It’s a simple film and barely gory which certainly isn’t a problem on its own, it’s just there are no ideas behind it to make it remotely frightening, not helped by a script which automatically alienates the audience through its irritating clunkiness. Everything’s thrown in for the sake of plot with no consideration for anything else and even the plot comes out wafer thin and stale. There’s nothing that’s not been seen a million times before, just poorly regurgitated one more time.
House At The End Of The Street is out on 21st September in the US (UK TBD). Certificate 15 (UK). Running time 101 mins.
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