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House at the End of the Street Review: About as Enjoyable As Pooping Out Your Pee-Hole

By Dustin Rowles | Film Reviews | September 21, 2012 | Comments ()


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It's important to understand that House at the End of the Street is not really a Jennifer Lawrence movie, at least not in the sense that it's the Jennifer Lawrence we know from X-Men: First Class and Hunger Games. Lawrence was shooting House when Winter's Bone -- the movie that merited her an Oscar nomination -- came out, so it's a movie she agreed to do before anyone even knew that she'd one day be a major movie star. She was basically the teenager from the "Bill Engval Show" at the time, and the only thing that prevented this movie from being released straight-to-DVD was the fact that Hunger Games made Lawrence a star in the interim. Otherwise, it would've been a movie with a poster likely to feature a forest setting, a large shot of Elizabeth Shue's head, and a small one in the corner of Billy from "Ally McBeal" (Gil Bellows), all designed with MS Paint with a pull quote from blurb whore Pete Hammond. House wasn't screened for critics; the supporting cast is largely unknown, and the movie has been sitting on the shelf for a while. So, you don't need a Ph.D. in Common Sense to know what to expect from the film.

For the most part, it falls in line with those expectations: Jennifer Lawrence acquits herself best she can and has a nice screen presence, but it's an otherwise abysmally directed, abysmally written horror film that's about as enjoyable as pooping out your pee-hole. However, there is one holy-shit I-did-not-see-that-coming twist in House that slightly elevates it above your standard straight-to-iTunes horror flick. Credit for that goes to Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3, U-571), a legitimate screenwriter who wrote the story upon which David Louka (Dream House) built the lousy screenplay that the virtually unknown Mark Tonderai poorly directed.

House at the End of the Street is about a mother, Sarah (Shue), and daughter, Elissa (Lawrence), who rent a gorgeous house out in the middle of the state-park boonies on the cheap because the house next to it was the site of a double homicide a few years prior. A brain-damaged teenage girl (probably the same person who directed this movie) killed her parents, fled, and was presumed dead, drowned in the nearby river. However, a body was never recovered, and urban legend suggested that the teenage girl was living in the woods.

We quickly learn, however, that the surviving brother, Ryan(Max Thieriot) -- who was not living in the home at the time -- had moved back into the house. Subsequently, he's ostracized by the rest of the community for ghouling out the neighborhood and lowering the property values. We learn that Ryan -- who has the screen presence of a dead fish making out with a block of wood -- was indirectly responsible for his sister's brain damage, which is what allegedly drove her to kill their parents. Naturally, Sarah is drawn to the mysterious Ryan and the two spark up a relationship with all the romance of a maggot-infested box of chocolates. What we soon discover, however, is that the sister, Carrie Ann, is in fact not dead, but living the locked basement of Ryan's home, where he cares for her and hides her from the authorities.

To say anything more would deprive the horror hounds among you -- who will watch any horror movie -- as well as the Jennifer Lawrence completists from the surprising twist. It doesn't salvage the movie because a twist no matter how grand cannot save a film from poor pacing, stilted acting, generic horror-movie tropes, and characters dumber than a cocaine booger. But it does feel nice to be duped; I really think there is a smarter framework buried underneath the godawful film than what's actually on display. It's a shame, too, because a better screenwriter and more experienced director might have actually been able to make a movie worthy of the Jennifer Lawrence we know from Hunger Games instead of the one no one knew from a couple of episodes of "Medium" and "Cold Case."




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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • simplysarah

    "
    Naturally, Sarah is drawn to the mysterious Ryan ...... it's Elissa that's drawn to him. Sarah is the mom (Shue).
    I saw this Saturday. It wasn't as horrible as you make it out to be. The twist was good. It was a decent movie worth a watch onDemand.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    I guess I'll look at any thread without thinking because hand to God, when I saw the word HOUSE in one of the comments, I though it was a reference that Japanese film with the finger-eating piano.

    Always read the review first.

  • Anna von Beav

    OMG I LOVE THAT MOVIE.

    The music is INSANE. And yet, somehow, totally perfect.

    ETA: I loaned it to a friend and she could not stop looking askance at her cat for a week.

  • Pookie

    I got nothing.......
    goodnight.

  • Uriah_Creep

    About as Enjoyable As Pooping Out Your Pee-Hole

    If this happens to you, please turn off your computer IMMEDIATELY and seek medical help.

  • L.O.V.E.

    Spoiler Alert!

    The teenage girl is not really brain damaged. She just thought it would be cool to be like Lindsay Lohan. Then Lohan was no longer relevant so she ran over her parents, because that seemed like a thing Lohan would do to stay popular. Then she came out of the basement because she was desperate be seen with a relevant actress.

    Sorry, that was the plot for Scary Movie 5. Nevermind.

  • special snowflake

    Do you keep a file cabinet of really lousy, inscrutable metaphors that you dip in to when you're reviewing equally lame movies?
    Sir, you have had me doubled-over in laughing so hard from some of your past reviews of movies that you genuinely hated, so I know the correct answer is 'no' - you don't tailor your literary style to equal the quality of a "godawful film." But that stuff up there is just some lazy-ass writing.
    A "dead fish making out with a block of wood." Wouldn't you consider a dead fish actually doing anything besides being dead to be a rather amazing thing to witness? I guess it's helpful that you've clarified a previously uncategorical level of "dumber" with the "cocaine booger" definition, I'll write that one down for future reference.
    And I recognize the old "poop through your pee hole" knee-slapper from a recent Jeopardy! 'question' to the Potent Potables category 'answer', What a maggot-infested box of chocolates does, so you can't claim any originality there, either.
    I understand, it's Friday, we all get a little lazy or restless by the afternoon - but really, writing a review is the last you should be doing when you're just waiting for the week to end, don't you think??

  • BlackRabbit

    Thank you for the pointlessly disgusting and childish title. What are you, five? Trying to go for shock value instead of real meaning to reference your opinion of these films?

  • emmelemm

    Please tell me that the sister's name is not actually Carrie Ann and you just used that for dramatic effect.

  • SLW

    "about as enjoyable as pooping out your pee-hole"

    Just to be clear ... is this not normal? Should ... er ... my friend ... see a doctor about this?

  • grendel

    Yes, unfortunately, this is a real medical condition that can actually happen. The poop-noodle.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    The cloaca is the model of streamlining, we must consult the lobsters for guidance.

  • Groundloop

    I saw a couple of TV spots for this and thought it hilarious that they decided to go with #HATES as the official Twitter hashtag.

    But yeah, I'll be watching this when it hits Netflix.

  • PDamian

    Well, I'll see it, being one of those who'll see any horror movie. And frankly, I sorta miss Elizabeth Shue, so I'll probably enjoy it just for that.

    "... ghouling out the neighborhood and lowering the property values." Now that's true American horror.

  • Sunsneezer

    The title reminds me of the classic french contrepetterie "Arriver à pied par la chine"

  • phase10

    "...
    dumber than a cocaine booger."

    I might have to steal that line and re-purpose it.

  • e jerry powell

    What's with all the pee-hole fixations today?

  • donrlewis

    Dustin-
    I say this with all the respect I have for you...but...WHY do you constantly review horror films when you clearly do not like them? I love the site and your stuff but dude, I don't see the point of putting yourself through these films you have a pre-inclination to hate. Not saying you aren't right about HOUSE but jeez man, bury the hatchet and assign these to someone else.

  • Jezzer

    People who love horror films have written the exact same things in their reviews.

    Well, not the part about the peehole, but the sentiment was the same.

  • gp

    ugh. read the twist on a.v.'s spoiler space.

    i'll watch anything.
    but, gah.

  • ardaigle

    BLESS YOU for sharing this. I have no interest in horror films, but have for some reason been obsessed with finding out "the twist," probably the pervasive marketing beating me upside the head. I can now go about my work day, i.e., waiting impatiently until 5:00 pm.

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