There are many types of horror films and there is a place for Evil Dead (2012), where the gore hounds get their fill, as well as Twilight (2008), where the lovelorn and romanticized get their vampires and werewolves that are eternal and “twinkle”, but where does a film like House at the End of the Street (2012) lie? It tries to appeal to the teenage crowd as well as the suspense and horror crowd but fails to deliver on either side.
The film concerns Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) and her mother Sarah (Elizabeth Shue) who has moved into a new town into a home near where a massacred occurred in their neighbor’s house. Elissa becomes friends with Ryan (Max Thieriot), the only member of the massacred family alive who still lives in the house. Her mother disapproves of her friendship to Ryan but Elissa sees only a misunderstood man trying to make a living for himself. The closer Elissa gets to Ryan the more she realizes that he hides a terrible secret buried deep beneath his house that ties back to the night when his family was massacred by his sister.
Horror films really lie within two spectrums – one is the too tame PG to PG-13 films which include Twilight and the remakes of Prom Night (2008) and One Missed Call (2008) and the other are the hard core films like the remake Evil Dead and Hostel (2005) and Saw (2004). In between you have the few PG-13 films that cross between the two such as Insidious (2010) and Apollo 18 (2011) and Mama (2013). House at the End of the Street tries to appeal to this middle ground but fails because of its lack of originality (hence why so many remakes have failed over the years) and suspense as well as its failure to deliver any real shocks.
Written by David Loucka (with story by Jonathan Mostow) the film comes off as a by the numbers thriller with no original or new ideas. The only thing that keeps the film rolling along is director Mark Tonderai who manages to at least keep the film moderately interesting with his directorial choices. Lawrence seems out of place in this film playing a teenager despite the fact that she doesn’t look at all that young which makes the pairing with Thieriot even odder since they try to make him look older as he plays a college bound character (a far cry from the character he played in Wes Craven’s My Soul to Take). Thieriot has no chemistry with Lawrence which makes their coupling even less likely. Shue, who made a return to horror with the remake of Piranha 3D (2010), is wasted here as the mother as very little is given to her to do other than look like the concerned parent.
Overall the film is mediocre and easily forgotten which is probably for the best of everyone especially Lawrence who has her own Twilight-like franchise in The Hunger Games films and I’m sure she’d like this film to be buried deep within her resume.