Review by C.J. Bunce
If you’re asked to zip off a list of the best Jennifer Lawrence movies, it’s probable you’re not going to include the 2012 teen suspense-thriller, House at the End of the Street. And yet, as modern efforts at PG-13 teen horror are concerned, director Mark Tonderai (Doctor Who, The Five, Locke & Key) will keep viewers guessing which trope the film will hang its genre hat on. What’s exactly up with the guy in the house where his sister murdered the rest of the family years ago? One constant for the Academy Award-winning Lawrence is she rarely disappoints, whether as a bow-wielding survivor (The Hunger Games series) or a shape-shifting X-Woman (X-Men: The Days of Future Past, etc.). Even back to young Allison on Medium, Lawrence delivers, and this time she takes viewers for a ride into that terrible place called teen angst–near a creepy house in the woods. And its streaming for your Halloween month pleasure on Netflix.
In a very close replica to 2018’s reboot of John Carpenter’s Halloween, House at the End of the Street is all about that backwoods town, rumors from the town gossips attaching themselves to the new people moving in from far away to have a second chance at life. This family includes Elisabeth Shue (The Karate Kid, Back to the Future series, The Boys) as mom and doctor trying to rekindle a relationship with daughter Elissa, played by Lawrence. As the movie’s title conveys, they move into a perfect house that just happens to be across a heavily forested yard from the house of the murder, which we see in flashback with a long-haired young girl killing her parents with a hammer in a genre-typical bloody rampage. But a handsome young man lives there now–Ryan, the son of the family who had been sent away years before, played by Max Thieriot (Bates Motel). Why would a kid live in a place with such horrible memories? No, really– why?
Ryan turns out to be a nice enough young man, especially when Elissa is assaulted by the suave pick at the school party–Ryan comes to the rescue as Elissa walks several miles home in a rainstorm. Even the local sheriff, played by Gil Bellows (The Shawshank Redemption) vouches for this local reject.
But Mom, who is already stuck with extended shifts at the hospital, is not convinced, so she does what all moms do in coming of age stories: she confronts them both and makes them promise not to be together when she’s not around. And that always works, right?
So who is the real villain here? And why does it seem like young women keep turning up missing in this creepy old town?
It’s a bit of a spin on the Bluebeard fairy tale, a new entry in our seemingly endless list of “creepy little girls” horror flicks, and a bit of the “same old, same old,” but with a sturdy enough script, good actors, and twists enough to keep you sticking around until the end. And the payoff isn’t too bad, either.
Don’t cancel your plans for this one, but if you like Lawrence and have watched all of our other Halloween recommendations offered up here at borg, you might check out House at the End of the Street. It is streaming now on Netflix.