Horror Film Review: House At The End of the Street (dir. by Mark Tonderai)

Hi there!  I’m back!  For the past two weeks, I’ve been “on the road,” traveling from my home in Texas to Baltimore, Maryland and then back to Texas again.  It was a great two weeks and a much-needed vacation and now, I am back at my office here at the Shattered Lens Bunker, and I am refreshed and I am ready to get caught up on what really matters: reviewing movies.

This is October, perhaps the third greatest month of the year.  Traditionally, October is horror month here at the Shattered Lens and, for my first post-vacation film review, I want to take a look at an underappreciated horror film that came out right before I left for Maryland.  It was released to theaters on September 21st, was the number one film in the country for a week, and got next to no love from either mainstream critics or my fellow film bloggers.  It’s still playing at a theater near you and, believe it or not, it’s not that bad.  The name of the film?  The House At The End of the Street.

(Or, as my BFF Evelyn and I called it, “The House at the End of the Cleavage” because seriously…)

In The House At The End of Street, recently divorced Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) and her daughter Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) move to a small country home.  Sarah has managed to buy a house that she really shouldn’t be able to afford and the new neighbors quickly explain to them that this is because, many years ago, a crazy girl named Carrie-Ann was living at the house at the end of the street and she murdered her parents before then disappearing into the woods.  Apparently, this has caused all of the property values in town to plummet and I really have to wonder why.  I’m not a real estate expert (for instance, I have no idea what a mortgage is and I have no desire to learn) but, personally, I would love to live next to a murder house.  Seriously, imagine the interesting conversations that could be started by saying, “So, my neighbor buried a salesman in his basement…”

But anyway, it turns out that Elissa has a perfect view of the house at the end of the street from her bedroom window and she quickly discovers that the house is not deserted.  It turns out that Carrie-Anne’s brother Ryan (Max Thieriot) is living in the house and, despite being shunned by the entire community, he seems to be a nice, sensitive guy.  Despite her mother’s misgiving, Elissa befriends Ryan and defends him against everyone who claims that he’s crazy.

Of course, what Elissa doesn’t know is that there’s another girl in Ryan’s life and she’s locked up in his basement…

When I look over the negative reviews of House at the End of the Street (especially the ones written by male film bloggers), I frequently come across the phrase “lifetime movie.”  Their argument seems to be that House At The End of the Street, with its emphasis on a single mom raising her daughter, was essentially just a PG-13 rated Lifetime movie.

Well, they’re right.

But so what?

Seriously, Lifetime movies are a lot of fun to watch when you’re in the right mood for them and that’s a perfect way to describe House At The End Of The Street.  It’s a lot of fun, the type of silly horror film that’s fun to watch with a group of friends.  Max Thieriot plays the type of cute but damaged (and potentially dangerous) outsider that every girl has had a crush on and, for the boys in the audience, there’s plenty of cleavage and visible bra straps.

Finally, I think the main reason that House At The End of the Street stayed with me is because both Elisabeth Shue and Jennifer Lawrence really invested themselves in their roles.  They were totally believable as mother and daughter and their loving but occasionally contentious relationship felt totally true-to-life (or, at the very least, it was true to my life).  Lawrence and Shue both give performances that bring some unexpected depth to this underrated film.

5 responses to “Horror Film Review: House At The End of the Street (dir. by Mark Tonderai)

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