With so many horror movies coming out each year, it can be difficult to decide what's worth your time. For horror fans, a PG-13 rating is usually cause for alarm, and in the case of House at the End of the Street, it appears to have hampered both scares and the story. With that being said, Jennifer Lawrence delivers a strong enough performance that the casual moviegoer may find this an entertaining, albeit predictable, film.
House at the End of the Street stars Jennifer Lawrence as Elissa, a teenage girl looking for a new start in a new town with her mother (Elisabeth Shue). It's not long after settling in, that the two discover the neighborhood's dark past. Four years earlier, a girl brutally murders her parents in the house next door, leaving her brother, Ryan (Max Theiriot), the last surviving member of the family... or so we're told.
The movie does a good job at the start, creating a creepy atmosphere and backstories for the main characters. However, it is apparent from the start that the film was geared toward the young teenage demographic. There are very few scenes in the movie that have any sort of violence, and the ones that do are very tame. Not being able to see the action can allow the imagination to take over and create a scarier experience. In this case, it makes the scenes feel muted and you can tell that the rating is preventing us from seeing more.
Despite a number of flaws, I found that the acting elevated House at the End of the Street from your average teenage horror film. Jennifer Lawrence gives Elissa enough depth for you to care about her well being, and Max Theiriot plays Ryan with a sadness and brokenness that allows you to empathize with his character. For the most part, their performances were convincing and kept my interest until the final act.
Eventually, the film begins to focus on just the action, foregoing any attempts at creating a convincing reality. The story and the characters become secondary to revealing the mystery behind the death of Ryan's parents. The events that unfold are very predictable to anyone who has seen similar films and, like many teen horror movies before it, the fake scares become tiring and predictable as well.
House at the End of the Street was surprisingly entertaining at times. Between Jennifer Lawrence and Max Theiriot's on-screen chemistry and some impressive cinematography, there are a number of things to like about this movie. Unfortunately, the predictable teen horror formula and a PG-13 rating keep House at the End of the Street from being a complete enjoyable experience. While I can't recommend this to most horror fans, young teens will definitely be into it.
Film Score: 2/5