I don’t really know what I was expecting when I put on the House at the End of the Street. It was a Sunday night, I was bored and I wanted to see some stabbing (and the gorgeous Jennifer Lawrence).
Mild Spoilers Ahead...
House at the End of the Street, (which I will now be referring to as HATES), is a pretty decent film. It tells the story of a jaded Chicago teenager, Elisa Cassidy (played by Jennifer Lawrence) and her divorced doctor mother, Sarah Cassidy (played by Elisabeth Shue). The two move to a small town for a “fresh start”, although we never find out what they’re starting over from exactly (or really anything about their back ground for that matter). They rent a gigantic house in a forest right next to another gigantic house in a forest that was the scene of a murder. The Jacobsons, a mom and dad, were killed by their crazy daughter, four years prior.
The surviving member of the family, Ryan Jacobson, played by Max Thieriot (whom you might remember from the terrible Wes Craven film, My Soul to Take) still lives in the house. Everyone in the small town seems to hate him because a) he’s living in the house that his parents were murdered which is super creepy and b) the murder that took place in the house is driving down the value of everyone else’s houses, or something like that.
The protagonist, Elisa, is edgy and angsty and plays the guitar. She doesn’t fit in with the boring teenage douche bags at her high school and is instead drawn to Ryan Jacobson because he’s deep and sensitive and different, but surprise, he’s hiding a dark secret! Oh no's! Apparently Ryan’s crazy murderous sister isn’t dead, she is locked inside a small room in the attic, where he keeps her drugged at all times.
This premise, while disturbing, seems sweet at first; a loving brother who is trying to take care of his insane sister, we feel for the guy. And as the story goes on, Elisa keeps falling for him and his doe eyes, even though everyone is telling her he’s creepy and to stay away from him. But she doesn’t and they have some pretty hot kissy times. While making out, Ryan's “sister” breaks out of her dungeon bedroom and makes a run for it. Ryan accidentally snaps her neck while trying to keep her from attacking a couple gettin' it on in the woods (at least that’s what we think she was trying to do). A sad Ryan buries his sister in the forest somewhere and then goes to a diner where we see him talking to cute waitress.
It’s at this point that shit hits the fan.
There’s a fight between Ryan and some townies. The townies try to burn his house down, only managing to light a curtain on fire. Elisa puts the fire out and when she goes to throw out the charred remains of the curtain she notices an empty box of tampons in the trash can and a pregnancy test beneath that. Now, unless Ryan is secretly rocking a vagina like Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry then something is definitely up. She digs a bit further only to find a young woman’s wallet in the trash as well. The wallet of the cute waitress from the diner. Hmmmm.
The film takes a hard left turn from here but, I won’t spoil the ending for you. I will tell you that the twist, while coming from out of nowhere, is in a lot of ways, not surprising at all. It was actually a bit lackluster, or maybe I’ve just seen way too many movies with the similar twist endings. I don’t know.
On the whole, this film wasn’t bad. The cinematography was decent and there was some pretty great acting, mostly from Jennifer Lawrence and Elisabeth Shue. Director, Mark Tonderai, did a pretty good job with a small budget of $6.9 million, considering that HATES went on to gross over $40 million worldwide. The biggest problem I had with HATES was the actual plot. I love a good psychological horror film, but it has to have a solid “what the fuck just happened” kind of twist ending, and HATES did not.
I might recommend this film to the casual horror fan. But, if you are a true undying lover of horror then, I suggest that you steer clear, unless you enjoy being mildly annoyed for 101 minutes.
Thanks for reading