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House at the End of the Street(2012)
Newly divorced Sarah and her daughter Elissa find the house of their dreams in a small, upscale, rural town. But when startling and unexplainable events begin to happen, Sarah and Elissa learn the town is in the shadows of a chilling secret.
For more about House at the End of the Street and the House at the End of the Street Blu-ray release, see House at the End of the Street Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on January 10, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Director: Mark Tonderai
Writer: Jonathan Mostow
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue, Max Thieriot, Gil Bellows, Will Bowes, Jonathan Higgins
» See full cast & crew
House at the End of the Street Blu-ray Review
Someone should've foreclosed on the film.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, January 10, 2013
I really can't think of a more generic horror movie title than House at the End of the Street, which sounds like a ripoff of The Last House on the Left as made by the folks at Asylum Home Entertainment. The title fits, though, because House at the End of the Street is very much a generic horror film, aimed at a generic teen demographic, with a generic, sub-Hitchcockian twister-coaster of a plot. It isn't scary, it isn't surprising, and it plods along with a ho-hum lack of intensity. The only exceptional thing about the film is that it stars Jennifer Lawrence—of Winter's Bone and Hunger Games fame—and what's exceptional about this is that some agent convinced her that this by-the-numbers would-be thriller was a great career move. But it happens; great actors—and Lawrence has certainly shown the potential to be great—sometimes make awful movies. To be fair, House at the End of the Street isn't bad bad, it's just dull. I imagine that by the second half, most of the intended audience will be checking Facebook on their phones, looking up occasionally when a jump scare seems imminent.
You can tell exactly what sort of experience you're in for by the opening scene, which shows a deranged pre-teen girl in a nightdress—ambling zombie- like down a hallway on a stormy night—killing her mother and father with the claw end of a hammer. The sequence is zealously over-edited with glitches and jump-cuts and selective focus—the kinds of cheap visual tricks horror movies generally resort to when the material just isn't very scary.
Four years later, overprotective mom Sarah Cassidy (Elisabeth Shue) and her teenaged daughter, Elissa (Lawrence), are moving into the same wooded neighborhood where the murders took place. Their new home sits uncomfortably close to the now-legendary "Jacobson house,"—i.e., The House at the End of the Street—which is the only reason they can afford to live in such an otherwise upscale area. Cue the expository download, a welcome-to-the-neighborhood get-together where we learn that 18-year-old Ryan Jacobson—the sole survivor of the family—still lives in the house, alone, rarely venturing into town. Bratty jock Tyler (Nolan Gerard Funk) even suggests that the killer, Ryan's sister Carrie-Anne, still lives in the forest. The adults dismiss this as an urban legend; although her body was never found, everyone knows that Carrie-Anne drowned in the nearby dam. Or did she?, we're meant to ask.
One night soon thereafter, Elissa is walking home in the rain when Ryan pulls up and offers to give her a ride. She's spooked, but whaddayaknow, Ryan turns out to be a nice-enough fellow—shy and soft-spoken and well-adjusted considering everything he's been through. The two strike up a cautious romance—although Elissa's mom is very much against the idea—while the movie slowly tosses us hints that all is not quite right. Who's that dark figure skulking in the woods? Why is Ryan carrying food down to the basement? Are those tampons in his kitchen garbage bin? Surely, you're beginning to get the picture. But wait! There's another twist! A twist you'll probably see coming! Seriously, if you don't figure out the climactic curveball ahead of time, you should promptly have your horror movie watcher's license revoked.
For what it is, the film is surprisingly well-cast. Elisabeth Shue is totally buyable as a harried mom who doesn't want her daughter to make the same mistakes she did, and Jennifer Lawrence has the same quiet reserve that gave her gave her characters such depth in Winter's Bone and Hunger Games. You can even reasonably believe that they're related. The problem is, they're tasked with moving through a story that's frankly beneath their talents. Lawrence did make this film before her breakthrough role in Winter's Bone—it should be noted—and I doubt she'll be taking many horror movie parts from here on out.
Ultimately, House at the End of the Street tries to meld teen horror cliches with Psycho-like suspense, but the result is a boring thriller that's neither here nor there—it's too bereft of sex and gore to attract one certain crowd, too predictable and tension-less for another. Everything about it feels expected and prescribed—the manufactured mother/daughter domestic tension, the kindly local cop (Gil Bellows) who harbors a secret, the high school bullies quick to smash the windows out of Ryan's car, the explain-it-all flashbacks, the obvious turns. This is one of those blandly indistinguishable genre movies that's promptly forgotten shortly after release. Maybe years from now you'll see the cover art on Netflix and have some dim recollection of what it was about, but nothing in particular will stick with you.
House at the End of the Street Blu-ray, Video Quality
House at the End of the Street arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that seems accurate to source. The movie was shot on 35mm—in what looks to be a fairly chunky high-speed stock—and natural film grain is in abundance, with no digital noise reduction or edge enhancement present. The thickness of the grain cuts back on clarity somewhat, but there's still plenty of high-definition detail visible here, from the ribbed weft of Elissa's white undershirt to moderately well-defined facial textures. The picture is rarely sharp sharp, but any softness is almost certainly due to the lenses and film stocks used. The color grading favors warm, creamy highlights in daytime scenes, fading to blue and greenish casts when night falls. Contrast is good, with stable black levels forming the basis of an image that's balanced and presumably faithful to intent. I didn't spot any blatant compression or encode issues.
House at the End of the Street Blu-ray, Audio Quality
This is one of those films that substitutes loud noises for genuine terror, typically relying on throbbing subwoofer output in an attempt to generate some suspense. That said, unnecessary aural jump scares aside, House at the End of the Street does feature some decent sound design, reproduced here in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track form. One thing the mix does particularly well is ambience; down at the end of the street, abutting a national park, we're near-constantly surrounded by natural noise—tweeting birds and thrumming insects, pouring rain and wind blowing through the trees. And even if the jump scares are cheap, they at least sound good, with room-shaking bass and fine-edged clarity. My favorite audio moment in the film is a scene near the end where Elissa is trapped in a basement and the lights go out; she moves around us in a loose circle, very convincingly, her breathing growing more intense. It's so convincing, actually, that I wonder if it may have been recorded using binaural audio techniques—it's very dimensional. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout, and the mix is filled out with a typically ominous horror movie score by Theo Green, which has plenty of heft and presence. The disc includes English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
House at the End of the Street Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
House at the End of the Street Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
House at the End of the Street is so generic and forgettable that it's beginning to recede from my memory already. I do like the intent—making a Hitchcock-esque thriller for teenagers—but Hush director Mark Tonderai's execution is off; the film just isn't suspenseful or scary enough to be worthwhile. Check it out if you're really into Jennifer Lawrence, for whatever reason, but keep your expectations low. The picture and sound on the Blu- ray release are solid, but the lack of substantial special features and the general meh-ness of the movie lead me to a general recommendation of: skip it.
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House at the End of the Street Blu-ray, News and Updates
• House at the End of the Street Blu-ray - October 31, 2012
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will release on Blu-ray director Mark Tonderai's horror thriller House at the End of the Street (2012), starring Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue and Max Thieriot. The release will be available for purchase on January 8th.
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