Jennifer Lawrence can't sell House at the End of the Street
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue, and Max Thieriot. Rated 14A. Now playing
At the age of 20, Jennifer Lawrence became the second youngest woman ever nominated for a best-actress Oscar for her work in the bleak 2010 thriller Winter’s Bone. Two years later she starred in The Hunger Games, one of the highest-grossing movies ever.
Here’s hoping that the gifted young actress’s critical and commercial appeal doesn’t fade too much after toplining House at the End of the Street, a clunky, run-of-the-mill horror flick written by the same guy who penned last year’s similarly themed disappointment, Dream House.
Lawrence stars as Elissa, a high-schooler who moves into a beautiful rental home in a woodsy area with her recently divorced mom (Elisabeth Shue). They got the place cheap because it’s next door to the site of a double murder in which a girl slaughtered her parents. “People got shot on our street in Chicago and nobody dropped the rent,” blurts out Elissa in a line typical of House’s dubious dialogue.
After an unconvincing opening scene depicting the pivotal killings, the film follows Elissa’s interactions with her cookie-cutter neighbours, including asshole schoolmate Tyler (Nolan Gerard Funk). Against her protective mother’s wishes she soon falls for the ultra-sensitive Ryan (Max Thieriot), son of the murder victims, who now resides in the death house. Thieriot’s skills at playing a timid outsider were honed in 2010’s My Soul to Take, which is arguably Wes Craven’s worst horror flick ever. (And that’s saying a lot, considering the wretched Cursed.)
Things get semi-involving in the last part of the show, when Max fights back against bully Tyler and his dickhead posse, leading to a climactic showdown that also attracts a good-guy cop (the slumming Gil Bellows). Around this time some of House’s inherent silliness is explained, but it’s still not enough to make you glad you visited.
Watch the trailer for House at the End of the Street.
You can follow former Fangoria scribe Steve Newton for all his horrific horrorizing on Twitter at twitter.com/earofnewt.