Monday, January 12, 2015

Quick Cut Review - "House at the End of the Street"


Directed by: Mark Tonderai
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue and Max Thieriot
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 1 hour 41 minutes  
Release Date: September 21, 2012

Oh JLaw, what are you doing in this thing?
Before Jennifer Lawrence became a household name thanks to the one-two punch of The Hunger Games and her Oscar win for Silver Linings Playbook (IN THE SAME YEAR), she was relegated to (as most actors just starting out) playing in schlocky B level horror movies. Sure she got her first Oscar nod for her role in The Winter's Bone, but she was nowhere near the box office gold she is now (despite The Hunger Games and X-Men: First Class both being released shortly thereafter).

Which makes the thriller House at the End of the Street that much more of an anomaly in her relatively short filmography. This is the type of movie you would expect to see the highly acclaimed actress in years before she was to get noticed, but instead it came out between the two movies that would make her a star. Heck, despite Hunger Games raking in truck loads of money just 6 months before HATEOTS came out, it did absolutely nothing to increase its box office.

The proof is in the pudding as they say and that is because whether HATEOTS made money or not has nothing to do with its star as it has everything to do with just how painfully bland it is. The story revolves around a single mom (Elisabeth Shue) and her rebellious young teenage daughter (JLaw) who move into a new home in the seclusion of the woods. Well...they aren't that secluded actually as just a couple hundred yards away from them is the house where an entire family was MURDERED which now has the only surviving member of the family (Max Thieriot) still residing there.

Don't do it, don't do it!
While common sense would be enough to make sure anyone with half a brain would never move next to a house in the woods where a mass murder occurred, in our film not only did they not really care about the history of the house, but the teenage daughter ends up DATING the guy living there who many suspect is dangerous. As one might suspect things start to go awry as secrets are revealed and motives are brought to light that all culminates in a final showdown where both the mother and daughter will be fighting for their lives while the viewer sits there yelling "DUH!" at the screen.

The key problem with HATEOTS is one of predictability. You can give us all the stupid characters and cheap scares all you want, just don't let us put the whole thing together almost immediately please. One of the most annoying parts of any movie, let alone a mystery thriller, is knowing from minute one how the whole thing will play out and then spending the next hour or so watching it all unfold as you expected. All other problems with the film (of which there are many) are null and void after that because you simply just don't care anymore. Not even the adequate performances are enough to keep the viewer engaged as the film plods along.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

Besides the star power and obvious talent of Jennifer Lawerence (which didn't seem to help the film anyway) there is little to make HATEOTS stand out from the bevy of other similar (and much better) examples of the genre. If you are a fan of JLaw and must simply see everything she is in then you won't hate your time watching the film, you'll instead just wonder why anyone involved in this thing thought it was worth their time, let alone yours.

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