House at the End of the Street is further evidence as to just how lazy horror film makers are getting nowadays. I realize that the genre is used by many filmmakers as a starting point to get off the ground or to make a quick buck, but does that mean that they can’t put a little thought into their product? This year alone, we’ve already had such turkeys as Intruders, Silent Hill: Revelation, Paranormal Activity 4, Resident Evil: Retribution, and The Apparition. Now, as if the list wasn’t already crowded enough, we get to add yet another. As you’ll see, an overlong title is the least of its worries.
The film tells the story of Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) and her mother Sarah (Elisabeth Shue), who have just moved into a new home. Everything about their new neighborhood is completely normal, other than the fact that a gruesome double murder occurred in a house very nearby. The only surviving family member, Ryan (Max Thieriot), who had been staying with an Aunt at the time of the murders, now occupies the house. Elissa and Ryan quickly become close friends despite her mother’s concerns, but as their relationship progresses, we begin to realize that those concerns are very much justified.
To start off, this is supposed to be a horror film, but there are no scares to be found. In fact, it is so desperate to get some that it attempts the old “surprise with a musical stinger” tactic multiple times instead of coming up with something in the film itself that would scare the viewer. As I already mentioned, this is an extremely lazy film, so much so that they don’t even attempt to hide the fact that there is something abnormal about Ryan for very long. I won’t ruin what that is, but let’s just say that he never fully recovered from the tragedy that struck his family.
However, what really proves the laziness of the film comes in the last half hour. When the film felt like it was coming to an end, I was surprised to see that I was only about an hour into it. This was rather concerning given that there was still over half an hour to go. For the remainder of the film, we are subjected to one of the most stretched-out conclusions I’ve ever seen in a horror film. It basically falls back on every cliché you can imagine while having our hero attempting to escape the clutches of a killer.
Of course, one of those clichés has to be that the main character has an IQ of about five. Elissa makes so many bad decisions that all you can do is hang your head and shake it in frustration, or if you’re feeling spirited, shout at the screen in hopes of her doing at least one intelligent thing. By the time you make it to the old clichéd scene of the killer pretending to be dead (or should I say, “if” you make it), you won’t care whether the heroine makes it or not.
What’s perhaps the biggest shock of all is to find Jennifer Lawrence involved in this mess. Lawrence, an Academy Award-nominated actress, is usually a much better judge of material than this, having starred in such films as X-Men: First Class, The Hunger Games, and most recently, Silver Linings Playbook (a film that will undoubtedly earn her her second Oscar nomination). She claims to have been attracted to this script because it was something different. Hopefully she took away the simple lesson that just because something is different from what she’s done before, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good.
It’s horror films like this that really make you appreciate it when something great like The Cabin in the Woods comes along. Sure, not every horror film is going to reinvent the genre, but it just goes to show that a little originality can go a long, long way. House at the End of the Street is just another example of someone trying to throw together a quick, simple idea in the hopes that nobody’s going to care about the quality of it. Unfortunately, there will be people who continue to go see bad films like this despite the quality, which will in turn make it “successful,” and encourage others to make the same kind of film. The rest of us will merely have to wait for others to put a little effort into the genre in order for it to have the impact that it should.
Now let’s look at the Blu-Ray itself. The film is presented is a 2.35:1 aspect ratio with a picture that was intentionally shot in a format called “2-perf Techniscope” in order to give it a more grainy look like the horror films of old. The picture is decently sharp and it has the desired effect somewhat, but the film will remind you of anything but the horror films of old, unless you happen to be reminded of something like Wes Craven’s awful Last House on the Left. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is of a good quality, allowing you to hear everything just as it should be.
As for special features, the film comes with an unrated version of the film as well as the original theatrical cut. I opted to watch the unrated cut, but found there to be pretty much nothing there to warrant it being labeled “unrated.” Even when characters were stabbed and shot multiple times, you don’t see any blood. It also claims to include a “shocking added twist you didn’t see in theaters.” If the twist was what was shown at the very end, then there was a very good reason it was removed from the theatrical cut.
The other extra is a ten-minute featurette entitled “Journey Into Terror: Inside House at the End of the Street.” This is a very superficial look at the film, featuring interviews with the cast and crew, many of whom tell us that the script was what drew them to the project (this was the part where it was very hard to keep a straight face). You do learn a little bit in these ten minutes, but not much of importance.
What we end up with here is a Blu-Ray release that is clearly not recommendable. While the film is presented in decent quality, the film itself is a dreadful disaster. On top of that, you don’t really get much in the way of special features, and what you do get merely has you questioning the sanity of the cast and crew, because they’ve either lost it, or they lied about having ever read the script in the first place. This is merely another generic horror movie that deserves to get lost in the shuffle.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.