Director: Mark Tonderai
MPAA Rating: PG-13
House at the End of the Street sounds like something that could have, should have played in drive-ins and grindhouses in the 1970s. Instead, it’s here and it’s now and it’s a stinker. Directed by Mark Tonderai and scripted by David Loucka, the flick is a standard-issue teen thriller about a single mom and her estranged teenage daughter renting a house in the woods. Next door stands a sad-looking, rambling old rattletrap in which a young girl purportedly whacked her parents a decade earlier. It turns out the girl’s college student black sheep of a brother still lives there amidst a maze of trapdoors, door locks, subbasements and secrets — not the least of which is that a character presumed innocent or dead or both isn’t and is violently psychotic.
Before you can say Psycho, Hammer horror, Carrie, Dario Argento, Halloween and countless grade-Z “homages” and rip-offs, people are running breathlessly, getting stabbed, gushing blood and surviving impossible odds, and the heroine is fighting off a relentless attacker in a clingy t-shirt. No illogical plot twist, no teen horror movie cliché is too cheap for this one. There are walks down long hallways, flights up and down scary stairways and every contrivance one can imagine — or remember from dozens of other films.
That this claptrap stars Oscar nominee and Hunger Games heroine Jennifer Lawrence and Oscar nominee Elisabeth Shue is astounding and sad. They try to give it something extra, but they’re just defeated. Gil Bellows plays a folksy, supportive local cop who may as well have "Victim" tattooed on his forehead. Max Thieriot plays the strange, sensitive, appealing boy next door. No wonder he’s been cast as the brother of Norman Bates in the TV series Bates Motel.