One of the unforeseen side effects of people staying at home with too much time to kill is wonderfully random streaming titles becoming inexplicably popular. The latest to become bolstered by the phenomenon is the near-forgotten Jennifer Lawrence-starring House at the End of the Street, which is currently ranked #4 on Netflix’s list of the top 10 most popular movies after being added to its library the other day.
The story sees teenager Elissa relocate with her mother to a small suburban neighborhood after her parents’ divorce, both of them only discovering after the move that their new home is on the same street as a house in which a double murder took place. Four years previously, a girl killed her parents and escaped into a nearby forest, never to be seen again, leaving behind her brother who is now a social pariah and whom Elissa befriends. The mystery about exactly what happened to the family is explored, and things become increasingly intense as secrets are revealed.
Although the movie was released in 2012, it was actually filmed two years earlier, a couple of months after the release of Winter’s Bone, a desolate mystery where Lawrence’s compelling lead performance became her breakout role. This explains why she appeared in such a generic horror movie right after becoming a household name with X-Men: First Class and The Hunger Games, as most actors would eschew such titles after being catapulted to stardom.
Exactly why the film has suddenly become essential viewing for so many people isn’t clear, but perhaps the imprisonment and isolation that feature in it has struck a chord with many viewers, as watching our fears played out in a manner that can’t hurt us is why lots of people watch horror movies in the first place. Although it’s not technically a slasher movie, as it doesn’t have nearly a high enough body count to qualify, it shares a lot of DNA with such flicks, and its third act of insidious stalking and desperate survival is reminiscent of many of them.
Whatever the reason for the sudden popularity of House at the End of the Street, it’s certainly having a moment while people are in lockdown. Although it’s not exactly a seminal piece of filmmaking, you could do worse than check it out on Netflix, if only to see what folks are talking about.