House at the End of the Street (2012)

Honey, Sometimes People Can’t be Fixed.

House at the End of the Street (2012)When I get requests from people, the same question goes through my mind most of the time: “Is this being requested because this person wants me to share their love for this movie or because this person wants me to hate-fuck this movie with words?”  It was certainly what I thought when today’s movie was requested by my friend Tiffany.  It’s the kind of movie that I knew existed, but certainly never would’ve felt the need to watch on my own.  It basically just looked like a pretty standard thriller movie.  But, if nothing else, the main actress is hot.  I decided to watch the movie very quickly after the request because it was a 2012 movie that I could add to my list, so you may have already seen a paragraph about this movie.  But I intend to add a few more paragraphs as I review House at the End of the Street, written by David Loucka and Jonathan Mostow, directed by Mark Tonderai, and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Max Thieriot, Elisabeth Shue, Eva Link, Gil Bellows, Nolan Gerard Funk, and Allie MacDonald.

In the beginning, a crazy little girl kills her parents with a hammer.  Years later, Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) and her daughter Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) rent a house … also with a hammer.  I’m not entire sure what that’s supposed to mean.  They find out that they have moved in near where those murders happened, and the crazy girl’s brother, Ryan (Max Thieriot), is still living there as the sole survivor in his family.  Because Elissa is herself crazy, she decides she’s gots to have her some of that definitely-not-psychologically-damaged man meat named Ryan, and starts developing a bit of a relationship with him, even though her mother frowns upon the eventuality that her daughter will be murdered with a hammer.

I didn’t get this movie.  I wouldn’t say I necessarily got to the point where the movie’s initials were accurate.  I didn’t HatE … otS this movie.  But I didn’t like it.  Most of it didn’t really make sense to me, and it wasn’t even remotely scary.  I’m not even entirely confident that they were trying to be scary.  I mean, one of their earliest ideas of a startle was a light in a house turning on.  The movie starts slowly with the scares, but it’s decent enough in the logic department.  Then they start switching places, letting the movie start to amp up as it takes a turn for the nonsensical.  The entire premise for the movie didn’t make a goddamned bit of sense to me, but let me put this up first.  ::SPOILER ALERT::  How the hell is a person fully aware of his own psychosis and still able to convince himself that it’s real?  “I know you’re not actually my sister, but I’m gonna kidnap you and imagine you are anyway.”  I guess psychos shouldn’t make that much sense to sane people, but movies should.  ::END SPOILERS::  Another thing that makes no sense is that a cop would draw his gun because he knows a situation is dangerous, but decides that it is far too much effort to reach up to his shoulder to use his radio to call in back up.  And later, when Elissa comes across the cop, she also does not find the situation worthy of using his radio.  I guess they didn’t want to bother anyone at the station.  And when the guy and the girl are running through the forest, am I supposed to know how the girl died?  He was holding her mouth to keep her quiet and she was suddenly dead.  Did she suffocate?  Did he break her neck?  Do you know that you should let us know these things?  Also, at what point are horror movies going to get over the idea of the malfunctioning flashlight?  The scene managed to be a little tense, but not in any way we haven’t seen before.  And we’ve definitely seen the flashlight malfunctioning in horror movies, but never in real life.  I’ve come across a large number of flashlights in my day, but never one that turned on intermittently.  I have a flashlight on my desk that has been dying for about 7 years, and the bulb remains on when I turn it on, but is just really dim.  There is no truth in this cinema…

The greater majority of the performances in the movie were fine, but I hated pretty much all of the characters.  Jennifer Lawrence did a good job portraying her character, but her character was an asshole.  She was randomly douchey to people, and makes the decision that all Ryan could possibly want to talk about in their very first conversation is the brutal murder of his family.  I realize that we needed to get caught up on the backstory, but I assume we’re also supposed to like the character.  As best I can tell, there was also no reason to have some stupid battle of the bands thing going on in the movie beyond Jennifer Lawrence wanting to sing and the director wanting to pad the movie.  Elisabeth Shue did a good job in her performance as well, but that mom was a bitch too.  It makes it really hard to decide whether douchiness is nature or nurture.  She decides she hates Ryan and doesn’t want Elissa hanging out with him.  Why?  Because his family was murdered?  He didn’t do it!  What does this chick do if she walks past an orphanage?  Yell at the confused kids that they should stay away from her daughter because they’re inherently evil?  The Ryan character was the exact opposite for me.  I thought Max Thieriot did not give a very interesting or appealing performance, but I kept siding with his character (aside from the spoiler bullshit from earlier).  Besides the other two instances that I mentioned in this paragraph, there’s also a point in the movie where four guys start to randomly beat the shit out of him for some insult that only they could’ve possibly understood, and everyone looks at Ryan like he’s a monster because he decides he’d like to stop getting kicked in his ribs, and puts a halt to it by breaking the dude’s ankle.  Everyone in the mob watching gasps and Elissa shuns him.  Of course Elisabeth Shue thinks he’s evil already, so we know which way she’ll go on it.  Look, I’m not a violent guy by any stretch of the imagination.  I’ve never been in a fight, and I assume I’ll never need to be.  But if the situation arises that four guys are beating me mercilessly, they should feel lucky if the only thing I break is their ankle if I get the opportunity.  Even if the other three guys stopped after I broke the other one’s ankle, I would go after them next yelling, “YOU EARNED THIS!”  And anyone that gave me an odd look for it would have a foot cast in their future as well.

House at the End of the Street did not work out for me.  The movie starts as if it’s got some promise, but then the logic starts to unravel.  It manages to build some tension, but none of it evolves into scares or even startles, and though the performances were mostly good, the characters that they were performing were generally annoying and nonsensical.  This movie wasn’t painful to watch, but it also has nothing it can offer that would give you a reason to watch it.  House at the End of the Street gets “HatE” out of “otS.”

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