PrintE-mail Written by Paul Mount

Review: House at the End of the Street /Cert: 15 / Director: Mark Tonderai / Screenplay: David Loucka, Jonathan Mostow / Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Elizabeth Shue, Max Thieriot, Gil Bellows / Release Date: Out Now

Recently divorced Sarah (Shue) and her 17 year-old daughter Elissa (Lawrence) attempt to start a new life in a smart new home, only to be troubled by the discovery that the house next door was the scene of a violent double murder four years previously, a disturbed young girl brutally slaying her parents during the night. The girl disappeared without trace and has long since been presumed dead, and the house is now occupied by Ryan (Thieriot), the girl’s morose and introverted brother. Elissa becomes fascinated by Ryan, who tells her that his sister Carrie-Ann suffered severe brain damage as a child and became violent and aggressive. Despite Sarah’s misgivings, Elissa and Ryan embark on an awkward relationship – but Elissa is unaware of the dark secret in Ryan’s basement…

Despite a snappy and inventive first hour, House at the End of the Street, directed by British former DJ and actor Mark Tonderai (whose first feature film credit was the promising Hush in 2009), loses its momentum, its ingenuity and, unfortunately, its way in its last half hour. It’s a story rich with unusually complex characters and relationships, and for a while it looks as if it might even be able to avoid the traditional clichés of the slasher genre. The audience’s expectations regarding the truth about Ryan’s savage cellar-dweller are neatly subverted, but once the secret’s out, there’s nowhere else to go. The movie runs out of steam and falls into the trap of making Elissa irrationally stupid just to manoeuvre her into a position where she can be chased around the basement with only a conveniently flickering torch for company. Even a half-decent final twist can’t quite save it from the damage done in its predictable last reel. Good performances and a few mild thrills make House at the End of the Street worth visiting, but it's unlikely you'll want to call in again.

Extras: Making of / Trailer

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