Written by Zach Stanbery.
A last minute decision this past Friday landed me in a theater waiting to see House at the End of the Street. With my Mtn Dew that couldn’t realistically pass for a large drink outside of the Shire and my comically hollow box of peanut M&Ms, I settled in. Having literally no idea what to expect, I, like the 30+ pre-teens that also attended House at the End of the Street, only knew one thing about the movie: Katniss Everd-I mean Jennifer Lawrence (imdb), was the star.
Let’s start with the good – I’m a dessert first type of guy after all. The plot/plot twist was solid to say the least. I can’t really say much on the plot without ruining the entire movie, but I will say that the script does a decent job at keeping the viewer guessing who or what the villain(s) is (are). The villain’s back-story is pretty well thought out and slightly intricate for a horror movie as well. There may be a few plot holes, but nothing inexcusable. The casting for House at the End of the Street is, at best, a mixed review. On one hand they cast Oscar nominated Jennifer Lawrence, which not only lands in the good category, but sticks the dismount. On the other hand, they cast everyone else.
Okay, now here comes the bad news. All of that good stuff that I mentioned before goes to waste because there is no character development. NONE. It barely matters that they cast Jennifer Lawrence, because she literally doesn’t develop at all. At one point in the film, her mother spells out in plain English her daughter’s personality and how she behaves to another character. I assume this is in case the audience was having trouble deducing it for themselves. They might as well have thrown a “Zack Morris aside” in there. I’m going to blame the writers for that one. Because of the lack of character development, the plot twist results in little more than a mild gasp from viewers. Furthermore, when the villain was revealed, I found myself simply not caring. My reaction was “oh so it’s ********… well there you have it…” This is especially disappointing given the villain’s disturbing background. I should have been on the edge of my seat, but instead I was wondering how the villain turned out so normal. Overall I would attribute my disappointment to the film’s over-commitment to the genre. This movie had a way too serious plot to be PG-13. Take for instance Disturbia: it too is a horror/thriller aimed at younger audiences, yet in my opinion it is infinitely better. Why? Because what they couldn’t do with violence and disturbing images in a PG-13 film they made up for with humor. Disturbia doesn’t exactly stand well in the horror genre, but for those of us who aren’t slasher connoisseurs it is at least fun! History (and the Die Hard franchise) has taught us that levity has its place in every genre. I only wish the makers of House at the End of the Street could have used this formula.
The movie is not a total loss, and there are a few circumstances in which I would recommend watching House at the End of the Street. In all honesty it makes for a decent date-night movie. However, in the case that you are single, gather a group of your best co-ed platonic friends next open-dorm, lower the lights to the lowest possible RC acceptable setting, pop some popcorn without setting off the fire alarm, and watch Disturbia instead.
All media from House at the End of the Street