Reviews - Major Releases


Film Review: House at the End of the Street

House at the End of the Street mixes and matches scraps of several suspense-movie formulas, but its story of a divorced mother and her teen daughter discovering that the country can be as mean as big-city streets never coalesces into anything genuinely new. Unlikely to draw genre fans after the first weekend.

Sept 21, 2012

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1363618-House_End_Street_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Sarah Cassidy (Elisabeth Shue) is an aging wild child who, in the wake of a traumatic divorce, finally decided to grow up and be a responsible parent to 17-year-old Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence). Committed to a fresh start, she relocates from Chicago to small-town Woodshire, Pennsylvania, where she rents a spacious new house and takes a job in the local ER, a great gig even if she gets stuck with all the late shifts because she's low nurse on the totem pole. Musically gifted Elissa is less than thrilled about the move, but things start looking up when she befriends vivacious local girl Jillian (Allie MacDonald), whose brother invites Elissa to join his band.

And then there's the boy next door, Ryan Jacobson (former child actor Max Thierot), who's cute, sensitive and just a little older than Elissa…the hitch is that he's the local pariah, albeit through no fault of his own. Four years earlier, while Ryan was living with an elderly aunt, his younger sister, Carrie Anne, murdered their parents and is presumed to have drowned in a nearby river, though spooky rumors that she's living in the dark woods persist, as spooky rumors will. With nowhere else to go after his aunt's death, Ryan returned home and to attend college. But being taunted and shunned drives Ryan to isolate himself in the tragedy-haunted house, which just validates the near-consensus that he's a real weirdo.

Unsurprisingly, the more everyone tries to warn Elissa away from Ryan, the more she's drawn to him—what artsy-angsty teen girl ever did anything but dig in her heels when told the wounded boy she likes is trouble? Not to mention that she has a history of befriending damaged souls, as her worried mother confides to friendly cop Bill Weaver (Gil Bellows), who assures her that Ryan is just the victim of provincial small-mindedness. The thing is, Ryan actually does have a deep dark secret (and before you cry "spoiler," it's revealed early on): He's keeping his little sister (Eva Link) in the basement, locked up and tranquilized, but still filled with murderous rage.

U.K. actor-turned-filmmaker Mark Tonderai (who made his writing-directing debut with the 2008 thriller Hush) and writers David Loucka and Jonathan Mostow present a united front: House at the End of the Street is clearly designed as a downbeat, character-driven psychological thriller, not a slick, glossy shock machine. But admirable though their ambition is, House never really pays off, in part because it relies too often on the very clichés it aspires to avoid. Elissa is insanely incautious, even for a teenager: Surely somewhere in her urban upbringing she was exposed to the notion that you don't get all up in other people's business and you especially don't go poking around their homes when they aren't there. The suspense scenes go on too long, the wine-swilling housewives (Susan included) are child-fixated harpies, and the final scene is a direct lift from Psycho…not an hommage, a flat-out steal. Kudos on that last for stealing from the best, but it's still not kosher.



Film Review: House at the End of the Street

House at the End of the Street mixes and matches scraps of several suspense-movie formulas, but its story of a divorced mother and her teen daughter discovering that the country can be as mean as big-city streets never coalesces into anything genuinely new. Unlikely to draw genre fans after the first weekend.

Sept 21, 2012

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1363618-House_End_Street_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Sarah Cassidy (Elisabeth Shue) is an aging wild child who, in the wake of a traumatic divorce, finally decided to grow up and be a responsible parent to 17-year-old Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence). Committed to a fresh start, she relocates from Chicago to small-town Woodshire, Pennsylvania, where she rents a spacious new house and takes a job in the local ER, a great gig even if she gets stuck with all the late shifts because she's low nurse on the totem pole. Musically gifted Elissa is less than thrilled about the move, but things start looking up when she befriends vivacious local girl Jillian (Allie MacDonald), whose brother invites Elissa to join his band.

And then there's the boy next door, Ryan Jacobson (former child actor Max Thierot), who's cute, sensitive and just a little older than Elissa…the hitch is that he's the local pariah, albeit through no fault of his own. Four years earlier, while Ryan was living with an elderly aunt, his younger sister, Carrie Anne, murdered their parents and is presumed to have drowned in a nearby river, though spooky rumors that she's living in the dark woods persist, as spooky rumors will. With nowhere else to go after his aunt's death, Ryan returned home and to attend college. But being taunted and shunned drives Ryan to isolate himself in the tragedy-haunted house, which just validates the near-consensus that he's a real weirdo.

Unsurprisingly, the more everyone tries to warn Elissa away from Ryan, the more she's drawn to him—what artsy-angsty teen girl ever did anything but dig in her heels when told the wounded boy she likes is trouble? Not to mention that she has a history of befriending damaged souls, as her worried mother confides to friendly cop Bill Weaver (Gil Bellows), who assures her that Ryan is just the victim of provincial small-mindedness. The thing is, Ryan actually does have a deep dark secret (and before you cry "spoiler," it's revealed early on): He's keeping his little sister (Eva Link) in the basement, locked up and tranquilized, but still filled with murderous rage.

U.K. actor-turned-filmmaker Mark Tonderai (who made his writing-directing debut with the 2008 thriller Hush) and writers David Loucka and Jonathan Mostow present a united front: House at the End of the Street is clearly designed as a downbeat, character-driven psychological thriller, not a slick, glossy shock machine. But admirable though their ambition is, House never really pays off, in part because it relies too often on the very clichés it aspires to avoid. Elissa is insanely incautious, even for a teenager: Surely somewhere in her urban upbringing she was exposed to the notion that you don't get all up in other people's business and you especially don't go poking around their homes when they aren't there. The suspense scenes go on too long, the wine-swilling housewives (Susan included) are child-fixated harpies, and the final scene is a direct lift from Psycho…not an hommage, a flat-out steal. Kudos on that last for stealing from the best, but it's still not kosher.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Major Releases

Into the Woods
Film Review: Into the Woods

Over-scaled, too dark and only intermittently charming Sondheim musical adaptation does a disservice to a great cast and is often so noisy you can't even appreciate the music. More »

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Film Review: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Latest rollicking entry in the sturdy series (installments one and two together hit a billion dollars in grosses) again has natural and historic wonders come alive at night to wreak havoc. But it’s largely kids’ stuff. More »

The Interview
Film Review: The Interview

If you’re curious, the movie that has North Korea so upset is genuinely amusing, if flawed in the length department. More »

Annie review
Film Review: Annie

Here’s an updated Annie for today’s entitled, tech-savvy and racially diverse generation of tweens who can easily relate to the new Annie’s love of luxurious toys. Their parents and other adults may miss the sweet innocence of the original, but they won’t be entirely bored by this frenetic new version of her classic story. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Into the Woods
Film Review: Into the Woods

Over-scaled, too dark and only intermittently charming Sondheim musical adaptation does a disservice to a great cast and is often so noisy you can't even appreciate the music. More »

The H obbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Film Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

After rewriting the rules for modern fantasy cinema, for the better and worse, Peter Jackson’s six-film Tolkien saga slams, bangs and shudders to a long-overdue conclusion. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here