Newly divorced Sarah Cassidy (Elisabeth Shue) moves herself and her daughter, Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence), to a rural town for a fresh start. Unfortunately their rental house shares a property line with the Jacobson home, where a brutal double murder took place four years earlier. Sarah begins a spiral of worry as Elissa befriends the reclusive Ryan Jacobson (Max Thieriot), the sole survivor of the massacre.
If an Oscar nominee agrees to star in a craptastic movie and the studio refuses to screen it for critics, will the actress still emerge with her reputation unscathed? Time will tell for Jennifer Lawrence, as she dives headfirst into her obligatory “starlet of the moment does a horror film” with as much enthusiasm as she can muster – which is not much, given that she seems to realize she made a horrible mistake signing on this dotted line.
Jennifer has garnered quite a bit of caché in Hollywood, having burst onto the scene with Winter’s Bone and following up by nabbing one of the hottest roles of all time as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games trilogy. Let’s hope she hasn’t squandered all the goodwill on this piece of shit.
To properly explain why this movie was so terrible would require too many spoilers. Maybe someone out there is just dying to see an uninteresting version of a cookie cutter scary movie that’s not actually scary. Who am I to take that away?
I will let my favorite line of dialogue leak: As Ryan looks pensively at a tree he says, “I like to get up at dawn, before all the good thoughts are taken.” The scriptwriter must’ve risen at noon because all the good thoughts were clearly taken long before he had chance to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).
“No, I don’t want a tissue! I just want to sob uncontrollably about what a dickhole my agent is.”
Okay, I lied. I’m dying to spill one more exchange between Elissa and her barely-there best friend, Jillian (Allie MacDonald). In this film we learn that a bad guy is not just a “dick,” he’s a “dickhole.” And that “dickholes” are the new “assholes.” Has anyone else heard of Team America? [Link NSFW] No? Okay, we’ll just go ahead and play along with the girls and their hilarious new theory about men. Yes, dickholes are the new assholes and House At The End Of The Street is an edge of your seat thriller. Why not?
I’ll tell you why not – because the plot holes are a mile wide. A semi could drive through these plot holes. Again, to explain what I mean would require revealing too much – but I can give you an innocuous peek into the inconsistencies. Take, for instance, the first day that Sarah and Elissa move into their rental home. They show up in the afternoon and are unpacked by evening – complete with pictures hung on walls, bedrooms made up and meals ready to be prepared in the already tidy kitchen. Damn, ladies! I’ll have to hire you next time I move – I have a feeling you might be free. Now, as for why a single mother would want to live in a remote area in a massive house, well the film doesn’t answer that and neither can I.
“You know what would be great? How about we move into a massive house that’s way too big for two people and isolate ourselves! Oh, and the best part is that our view is of a creepy, deserted home where a double homicide took place. And wipe that pout off your face.”
So, the brooding Ryan immediately wins the affection and loyalty of Elissa. You’d think, given that this relationship is the backbone of the storyline, that casting would be paramount. So who was absent the day that Max Thieriot nabbed the male lead? Getting Jennifer Lawrence to star is obviously a coup and she does the best with what she’s given – but even she can’t get blood from a stone. And Max is a stone. He’s completely devoid of any compelling emotion and doesn’t even have chemistry with Jennifer. Um, have you seen her? Needless to say, it’s distracting having Ryan as a central character. I wouldn’t cross the street to spend time with him, much less defy my friends and family for the honor of hanging out in his uber-creepy home.
The scariest thing about this film was the audience. Someone brought a toddler, who fussed in the back row the whole time. The couple next to me shared popcorn and a cold. I was more nervous about catching whatever cough and sneeze they decided to bring to the theater than I was about any tension from the plot. We were also treated to a group of teenagers who were clearly experiencing their first horror movie together. They did their best, loudly, to warn Elissa “not to go in there,” to no avail. Spoiler alert – Elissa does go in there; that’s the point. Shouting at the screen ain’t gonna change it.
I’d roped my brother, Jared, into going with me, assuming that the horror film would, you know, be scary and that I’d want company. I ended up apologizing to him for wasting his time but he shrugged his shoulders and said, “You know, normally all the disturbances in the theater would bother me. But today I was glad that at least someone was having a good time.” It’s just too bad it wasn’t us.
Who has two thumbs and is less interesting than cardboard? This guy!
An unenthusiastic addition to the genre, rife with mile-wide plot holes, weak characters and every tired scare-tactic cliché in the book.
Take a Drink: every time you think, “Did they blackmail Jennifer Lawrence to star in this?”
Take a Drink: for every horror cliché they trot out on screen.
Take a Drink: when you accidently laugh out loud at any point in the film.
Take a Drink: if you feel like bitch-slapping the director for wasting your time.
Take a Drink: every time Elissa attends band practice. Oh, yes – there’s a ridiculous band subplot here too!
Do a Shot: in honor of Elisabeth Shue, who also deserves better.
Are you kidding? Jared and I sprinted from the theater in search of the nearest pub. How about you watch it to the end and tell me if there was any last scene worth sticking around for? Yeah, this job isn’t as easy as it seems!