I suspect The Boy has a little bit of a “thing” for Jennifer Lawrence, so when House At The End Of The Street came to the bargain theater at an opportune time, we shuttled out to see this movie, with it’s title reminiscent of so many ‘70s flicks.
This has a sort of ’70s feel to it, actually. Elissa (Lawrence) and her mom, Elizabeth Shue (whom I still know best as the actress who took over for Claudia Wells in the Back To The Future sequels, though she had a small role in Hope Springs) move to a rural town after—I dunno, something happened in Chicago or something.
Anyway, they take up in a lovely house (in the horror movie tradition) across from a house that they thought to be abandoned but in fact houses a boy a couple of years older than Elissa. The boy, Ryan (Max Thieriot), lives there alone because his parents were murdered, apparently by his sister, who ain’t raht-in-the-head.
Faster than you can say “all the high school boys are weenies”, Elissa has fallen for the troubled older boy. (Though the movie makes clear that Elissa is experienced, whereas Ryan appears to be not.)
Naturally, Mom’s not thrilled with this, which, just as naturally, encourages Elissa to get even more involved and keep it from her mother. All setting up an environment where the whole question of whether Ryan is entirely sane, or whether crazy little sis is running around in the woods and looking to kill Elissa, cannot be properly examined in a timely fashion.
OK, this is a pretty by-the-numbers affair. But it was utterly trashed by critics (11% on that tomato-based site), and even the audiences (51%) weren’t crazy about it. But it’s not bad for what it is. There are a few twists that, while far from shocking, do keep things moving.
It’s a little slow up front. There are points where Theo Green’s (Dread) music is called into service inappropriately, presumably to create some tension in early scenes where none actually exists. (Better choice would’ve been to eliminate those scenes.)
But it’s really not bad. One thing I was curious about was whether Lawrence would be able to pull off a damsel-in-distress role. In most of her parts, she plays a preternaturally strong young girl whose emotions are bubbling just under the surface. That’s cool and all, but it’s sorta what Kristen Stewart used to do—and never stopped doing.
And, hallelujah, she pulls it off! She’s feisty in this but not heroic, emotional but it gets to actually bubble through rather than just percolate, and she actually seems vulnerable in human ways.
So, that’s kinda cool. Kid might have some real chops.
So, there ya go: Middle-of-the-road thriller/horror. The camera, shall we say, enjoys Ms. Lawrence without leering at her (maybe that’s why the critics trashed it). The Boy was entertained, not finding it great but not understanding the trashing either.