Movie Review: The House at the End of the Street

★☆☆☆☆

It’s appropriate that the Twitter hashtag for House at the End of the Street is #HATES because the only redeeming thing about this movie is Jennifer Lawrence’s singing voice.

The movie was filmed in 2010, before Lawrence starred as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. It is clear that the filmmakers are trying to cash in on Lawrence’s newfound fame with a movie that otherwise never would have – or should have – been released.

Lawrence isn’t terrible in the film, but she has nothing to work with aside from a forced dialogue, uneven characterization and a plot that tries too hard.

House at the End of the Street follows Elissa (Lawrence) and her divorced mother Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) as they move into a rural house that they can only afford because just four years earlier, a girl murdered her parents in the house across the street.

The girl supposedly drowned in a dam, although a body was never found; we learn that the girl is still alive and her older brother Ryan (Max Thieriot) is holding her captive in the basement of their house.

Elissa falls for Ryan’s sad and lonely vibe, much to the town’s fear, as everyone else is suspicious of him. But of course we learn, sort of, that Ryan’s story isn’t all that it appears to be.

There are many inconsistencies with the cliché girl-meets-mysterious-boy paired with the creepy house plot, most of them stemming from barely-explained characters’ back stories and motives.

The dialogue consists mostly of awkward conversations that screenwriter David Loucka probably didn’t intend for an audience to laugh at. This amateur writing is more evident in the characters, most of which are ill conceived and can’t decide who they want to be.

Ryan’s character, especially, is poorly established, which makes his actions in the end confusing. By the conclusion of the film, we’re left questioning who these people we’ve watched for 90 minutes are, and why we should care about them.

It is clear that director Mark Tonderai was attempting to create a suspenseful thriller but when the story is as weak as House at the End of the Street, no amount of color editing or jump cuts can salvage the film.

It is disheartening to watch the movie, because there are moments that could be interesting if the ideas were expanded. If the film had veered toward the teen-slasher side, it would have been an improvement, one that the audience seemed to be waiting for.