"House at the End of the Street": Low On Chills, Good Thrills

October is here, and that means one thing: horror movie season. Bring on the popcorn and the nightmares.

To kick off the fall’s fright fest is “House at the End of the Street,” starring Jennifer Lawrence and Max Thieriot. This movie is a must-see for horror buffs and girls who want an excuse to hide in their date’s arms for an hour. Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) and her mother move into their dream house, which was affordable only because of the murders that happened in the house next door a few years ago. A little girl, Carrie-Ann, killed both of her parents and is believed to be dead. Her older brother, Ryan, was not home the night of the murders, but later moves back into the house. As Elissa gets closer to Ryan, she discovers the terrible secrets still hiding in the house at the end of the street.

You may think you know what will happen because of the supposedly ‘revealing’ previews for the film. But you don’t. “House at the End of the Street” is able to surprise even the most seasoned horror movie critics who think they’ve seen it all.

The story is compelling, and the camera shots avoid the cliches that have made modern horror movies predictable. (How many times have we seen a character open a mirrored bathroom cabinet, and when it closes, we see the reflection of the killer standing right behind the protagonist?) But the truly impressive aspect of the film was Lawrence’s stellar performance.

Famous for her role as Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games” and her Academy Award nomination for “Winter’s Bone,” Lawrence has proven her acting chops in her short Hollywood career. “House at the End of the Street” is no exception. From the first line she delivers, the audience can tell that Lawrence isn’t just another pretty face that will still manage to look good while screaming in terror and covered in fake blood. Her portrayal is convincing since she neither overacts nor underacts. She is able to effectively convey the emotional depth of her character, make the audience laugh, wow us with a formidable singing voice (yes, not only can she act, she can sing … some girls just have it all), and most of all, she breaks the annoying pattern of fragile female leads who would never survive the situation they portray.

You know the cliche: Pretty girl with no acting talent is home alone and hears a noise in the basement. Girl goes downstairs, bringing with her a spatula from the kitchen not the knife sitting right next to it. She nervously walks down to the basement, calling out into the darkness that she’s going to call the cops. Her hand shakes as she raises the spatula, and BOOM! A bird caught in the basement flies into her, making her scream with fright. It flies away, and she breathes a sigh of relief. She turns around and a killer with a knife is standing there. She screams. He stabs. She dies. We wonder why we bought tickets.

Thankfully, Lawrence breaks the mold. Her character is strong and sassy (which seems to be a recurring theme in the roles she chooses) without being obnoxious and over-done. She refuses to be a victim or damsel in distress, and has one heck of a kick. It’s so refreshing to see a strong female lead, especially when we’re surrounded by characters who are weak and spineless (cough, cough ... Bella Swan). This is especially true in the horror movie industry. Hopefully Lawrence’s performance will inspire writers and directors to have a little more faith in female ability to kick some serial-killer a**.

As for the film itself, was it terrifying? Not exactly. But to be honest, it’s hard to find a horror movie that is. Movies like “Saw” are simply gross. “When A Stranger Calls” gives you cheap thrills, but doesn’t stick with you. “The Sixth Sense” messes with your mind, but is not very scary.

This movie is something else though: disturbing. It borders the line between a suspense-thriller and the horror genre. And that can be equally as powerful as being terrifying. You think about it long after you’ve left the theater. You think about it as you lay in bed at night. Washing your hair hasn’t been this nerve-racking since Janet Leigh took her fateful shower in “Psycho.” A couple members of the audience jumped and shrieked throughout the film. The pop-outs giving us momentary thrills as well as the deep chills that eat away at you during the drive home. The filming is unique in that it does away with traditional camera angles. The story even introduces characters and plot points unconventionally.

If you’re just looking for a completely terrifying movie, this isn’t the movie for you. But if you can appreciate a good horror film that takes fear to a more psychological level while incorporating moderate scares, then definitely see it. While “House at the End of the Street” may not go down in history as one of the greatest horror films of all time, it’s certainly worth the ticket price and sets the bar far higher than the usual torture-porn audiences have become accustomed to.

OUR RATINGS (out of 5 stars)
  • Overall: 3.5
  • Scare-factor: 3
  • Gore: 1
  • Story: 4

By: Erin Jones | Image: Source


Post a Comment