Much has been made of the fact that the House at the End of the Street was shot before The Hunger Games catapulted Jennifer Lawrence to the dizzying heights of the A list. Some have even suggested that the lack of previews might in fact point to an embarrassed cast, which would have preferred it if this little forgotten thriller from all the way back in 2010, had been swept under the “ not so red – carpet. However, do not let the generic title deter you (they might as well have called it Psycho in the Last House on the Left at the End of the Street Next to the Cabin in the Woods). For what it lacks in originality, House at the End of the Street makes up for in impressive performances and lots of suspense.
The film begins in familiar territory: mother and daughter move into the house next to the titular creepy house at the end of the street, and begin to try and make it in a new town. Elissa (Lawrence) quickly identifies the jerks at school, makes friends with some of the decent kids and gets to know her neighbour, the loner Ryan (Max Thieriot) who still occupies the house in which his sister killed his parents and then disappeared. Ryan is a gentle and misunderstood college boy, who is victimized by the townspeople who are more interested in housing prices than his well-being. But there’s just one problem: he has his brain-damaged sister locked in the basement.
Although deranged, Carry-Ann is very good at escaping and running into the woods, leading the audience to question just how inept Ryan is at locking doors. But plausibility aside, it does allow for some tense chase scene, as Ryan gives chase and tries to stop his seemingly blood-thirsty sister from doing any more damage.
With Lawrence adding singing and playing guitar to her list of many talents, the film’s high school and battle of the bands scenes places it somewhere between Dawson’s Creek and The Last Exorcism. As a story of teenage angst, Lawrence and Thieriot’s relationship is touching, and nuanced performances from both the young stars manage to enthral. They are so enthralling in fact, that the horror which ensues is genuinely painful to watch. However, compared to the drawn out development of their relationship, the denouement feels rushed, and as is often the case, raises more questions than it solves.