TBT: Review – House at the End of the Street

“There is a house in New Orleans. They call the Rising Sun.” Even if you were not even planned to be born in 1964, you probably know this song by The Animals. Or may be the newer version of the rockband Muse. When I was watching House at the End of the Street, it really made me think of this song, and not just because of the word House in the title.
First of all the key role Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) is a rock chick that writes, plays and sings her own songs. You even hear her sing in this film and she does a pretty good job. Yep, just like The Animals, that formed a band with more than just one person.
The House of the Rising Sun might sound like a holiday bungalow in which you can count on a hot summer sun to brighten the day, it really is the place where people screw up their lives. In the original song they sing about sin, misery and poor guys that are completely ruined. Bingo! This too happens in House at the End of the Street.
In the movie you get to meet Alissa at the moment she and her mom (Elisabeth Shue) move into a new house in a new town. In case it was not clear yet: this is a horror film. Alissa is staring at her neighbours house, and her mom tells her that house is the reason she could afford this house. The price was low, because there was a murder in the house at the end of the street. It was a daughter that killed her parents, though her body was never found.
Though mom is convinced there is nobody living in that house, Alissa finds out there’s actually a hot young guy living there. It’s Ryan (Max Thieriot), son of the killed couple and brother of the girl who disappeared. During the rest of the movie you discover Ryan actually has a very interesting secret, which screwed up his life way beyond the things that you already know about him.

That sounds exciting, but please do not watch this movie with too high expectations. Though the story feels horror-y, director Mark Tonderai does not put too many horror elements in the flick. No gore, no blood; in an average episode of A Touch Of Frost we see more dead bodies. If you ask me a horror flick does not have to include Evil Dead-esque goriness, but House at the End of the Street also misses suspense. There are a few of those American tricks in there, like a sudden loud noise to scare you, but there are not really creepy or unexpected things that show in those moments. There are just some people fighting, but then sometimes the flashlight does not work properly, so you do not even get to properly see the action sequence.

To be fair, this film does not feel like a horror, more like a psychological thriller (my fave genre of all film genres). Even that does not fit entirely, cause the audience is not taken aboard this emotional state of the key person and there is not really a huge mystery. As said before, Ryan does have a secret for Alissa, but this is not really shown as something vague as we see most of it happen long before Alissa notices.

There is a little extra to the story, which does make the movie more interesting, but the director does not work it enough. Maybe Tonderai wanted to tell too much for just one film. Cause there’s also the relationship between Alissa and her mom, her new school, her friends, her musical career and that whole drama with Ryans situation. Not one element gets the attention it needs, which makes the movie very shallow. Not a great decision if you would go for the psychological thriller genre.

What I think is the biggest let-down, is not paying enough attention to the relationship between Alissa and her mom, cause that was one of the most fascinating things. Usually moms and daughters have either a friendship-relationship or a daughter-rebels-and-mom-can’t-do-anything-right-relationship. In House at the End of the Street this relationship is more original: it is obvious Alissa is not to happy with her mom, but the two do share laughts and funny conversations, especially at the beginning of the movie. It is such a pity this relationship is just a tiny detail.

The Verdict

House at the End of the Street is a nice try, but nothing more. The story is pretty standard, but it has a little edge that makes it interesting. Unfortunately there is not enough work put into making this edge noticible. The same goes for the rest of the movie; there is no dialogue to impress, there are many action sequences that are predictable and there are so many scenes that just jump in when the other was not finished yet. There is too little space and time to give the characters the attention they need. I give this movie a 5/10, sorry Jenny!

 

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