ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, SEPT. 21, 2012
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.