House at the End of the Street [Blu-Ray]
Directed by Mark Tonderai
Beneath the frequent, extreme acts of idiocy exhibited by every character, largely predictable twists of a plot not a fraction as clever as it thinks it is and a glut of completely superfluous acts of arbitrary stylization, House at the End of the Street has a kernel of intent that an intelligent director with a modicum of restraint could have turned into a decent psychological horror film. Unfortunately, Mark Tonderai is not that director. The frustratingly thoughtless film he made out of David Loucka`s script (expanded from a story idea by Terminator 3 director Jonathan Mostow) is destined for the bargain bin. Were it not for Jennifer Lawrence's rapidly rising star and commendable efforts in front of the camera, this would likely have been a direct-to-video release. Discerning viewers should be able to see where the story is heading within the opening five minutes. In the first of many unnecessarily stylized scenes, a child viciously murders her parents with a hammer. Flash forward a number of years and Elissa (Lawrence) and her protective single mother, Sarah (Elizabeth Shue, Leaving Las Vegas ), move in next door to the old murder house, which has become something of an urban legend to the yuppie townsfolk. Sarah's appreciation for the real estate black mark's impact on adjacent property value is quelled by the revelation that the house they thought was empty is actually still inhabited by surviving son Ryan (Max Thieriot, Chloe ). Predictably, Elissa makes nice with the quiet, gentle, emotionally wounded outcast after discovering firsthand that most of the other kids are one-dimensional, vapid jerks, as played and written. One of the movie's most exasperating scenes involves random, context-free speed-ramping and slow-motion shots of privileged douche bags partying before the head ass-hat decides Elissa is a bitch for not being down with getting date raped. None of this really matters to the plot. Anything outside of the interactions between Elissa and Ryan, and the underdeveloped sense of jealous competition between Elissa and her mother, is just a means of ushering the plot along to its next beat. There are more than a few red herrings that try to throw viewers off the pungent whiff of identity confusion laid out by Tonderai`s clumsy and blatant visual metaphors, but they do little more than frustrate with tenuous logic. For a film that harps upon trusting a woman's intuition, it's ironic that Jennifer Lawrence claims to have taken the role out of faith in her director, as revealed in the Blu-Ray`s sole special feature: a standard series of congratulatory interviews and behind the scenes shots. Let's hope she learns her lesson more swiftly than her character. Oh, and the unrated version contains a little more knife thrust than the standard version. Neither is worth your time.
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