Wednesday, August 21, 2013

House at the End of the Street (2012)

House at the End of the Street is that horror movie that Jennifer Lawrence appeared in after the release of the first installment of The Hunger Games. I was excited when I noticed that Jennifer was starring in a horror movie - I absolutely loved her in the grim Winter's Bone and the downtrodden Poker House. But the title unfortunately recalls Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left (remade in 2009) - I micro-reviewed both of those films in this post. Not that Last House (either one) was a bad film - on the contrary - but I was left thinking that House at the End of the Street couldn't be more than a repetitive clone of The Last House on the Left. Meanwhile, watching the trailer, I thought that it was supposed to be some sort of ghost movie...

So anyway, I finally sat down to actually watch the movie. And it does start out somewhat similar to Last House. Jennifer Lawrence is Elissa, the teenage daughter of an absent rock n roll star, who has moved from Chicago out to the country with her mom, with whom she has somewhat of a rocky relationship. They shack up in a beautiful house that sits right next to the property where a terrible crime was committed several years earlier - a girl killed her parents in cold blood and then went missing in the forest. They soon discover that the girl's brother is still living in that house, and when he turns out to be a rather sensitive guy, rather than a wacko, Elissa starts to develop feelings for him.

At this point, it quickly becomes clear that this movie is not going to be a clone of The Last House on the Left. As a matter of fact, it doesn't quite develop the way you expect it to, which is so refreshing among today's trend of formulaic horror. There are some genuinely shocking twists, and for this reason I will refrain from revealing too much information about what happens. I found myself really getting into the story and the characters, and the climactic ending is very cleverly put together, subtly, but like a puzzle with all the right pieces in place.

I was really surprised and very impressed with this movie. It doesn't have the reputation or the fanfare of movies like The Conjuring, or the Evil Dead remake, but I think that it's a really good example of a well put-together modern horror movie, and I urge horror fans who have not seen it to give it a watch. I would definitely rank it as a sleeper hit, and I'm happy to do so, because I have oodles of respect for Jennifer Lawrence as an actress. If more horror films were as carefully constructed as this one, then maybe more talented actors would be more eager to star in them.

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