House at the End of the Street (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
10Jan/130

House at the End of the Street (2012)

1Andrew DISLIKE BannerThere is nothing wrong with House at the End of the Street that a few lines of cocaine can't fix.  The film has the plot of a fever dream sped way down so that the images and ideas you'd get drowning in a pool of sickly sweat lose any cohesion when you're forced to think about them.  Just add drugs, crank up the editing and pace, do a little recasting, and you'd have a camp comedy classic if not something that at least pretended to be an inspiring piece of film-making.

Instead there's this languid tone, shots of houses floating underwater without any relevant plot threads explaining why this is an acceptable image, and two leads who are treating the film like a low-key drama instead of a farce.  The film, more than anything, is undone by the seriousness it tries to inflict on the participants.  The extent of that serious thread is stretched beyond the breaking point by the time zombies and resurrection graveyards seem to be in play.  It breaks entirely by the time significant mental problems are equated to psychic powers.

Just a bit of camp would have done this film a world of good.  Instead we get a film that feels slow even if you try to play it at three times the normal viewing speed.  It's sad that, even watching some of the more ludicrous scenes, that Yakety Sax doesn't even help the film at that speed.

Force works differently than you realize.  Holding someone's hand actually causes them to repel in the opposite direction.  Science.

Force works differently than you realize. Holding someone's hand actually causes them to repel in the opposite direction. It's science.

The film opens on one of the murder of a man and a woman by the little girl from The Ring after she spent some time in a tanning booth.  Four years later a woman looking for a fresh start (Elisabeth Shue) and her daughter (Jennifer Lawrence) move into the house next door to where the murders took place.  Apparently the evil emanating from the home is so potent not even our protagonists can't move in to the plot contrivance and are instead relegated to being next door neighbors.  Mama starts to fear for her little one's life when, in the middle of the night, a light comes on from the house next door.  There's nothing else - no ravens flapping at the window, no demonic symbols, just a woman who is suddenly afraid of modern wiring.

This is one of those moments where a player like Nicolas Cage or Tea Leoni would be welcome.  The scene is played for horror, there's even the sudden drop on the soundtrack to an ominous tone, but it doesn't change that the fear is supposed to be generated by a switch.  Considering the plot developments that lie ahead someone willing to oversell the notion of being afraid of electric bulbs would have helped, but instead Shue acts as though she is having a serious monologue all to herself and worriedly sits back down.

Then the daughter goes to school in a rapid fire series of dead end scenes that any wise editor would have burnt into unusable carbon debris.  She's a musician and we watch her play for some friends but this is just a pointless diversion.  That's almost five minutes saved upfront.  The local hunk who does charity work is actually a jerk and sets up a scene where his bullying is punished when that's the only scene that's needed.  If eliminated these scenes would have saved almost ten minutes of screen time.  There's also the matter of all those scenes at the hospital, creatively named Hospital, where we watch Shue stare solemnly at x-rays and chat up a police officer.  Another five minutes saved.

All the best innovations in health come from Hospital.

All the best innovations in healthcare come from Hospital.

If the film isn't weighed down by dead scenes that serve nothing and go nowhere, it's leading us down a rabbit hole so twisty I'm amazed it didn't turn into an episode of Scooby-Doo.  Turns out that the antisocial hunky neighbor (Max Thierot) is the brother of the girl who murdered her parents and caused her to have brain damage after falling of a swing while holding her hand.  Her parents seem to be smoking meth while this happened.  But no, something else happened and she may be a zombie.  Then there are the telekinetic powers while various objects in the home start to float by themselves and the hunky cop may have been in on this the whole time.  By the way, the son may have the ability to increase his strength by 500% at any time.

Nothing connects.  The film feels like the screenwriters locking themselves in a room with a copious amount of drugs and rattling off different twists as soon as they become a thought and a director who took the nonsense they produced and made the film seriously.  Whatever process brought this film into being must be more interesting and film-able than the results since it had to be passed off as a good idea at some point.  By the time daughter is fighting for her life against her sensitive neighbor after breaking his sister's neck in the below-ground containment lair filmed, somehow, with the seriousness of Lincoln I start to wonder whose idea is fueling what mistake.

Just add more drugs.  If so, it's camp you'll promptly forget.  If not, it's a bewilderingly paced and written film you'll wish you could.

TailHouse at the End of the Street (2012)
Directed by Mark Tonderai.
Screenplay written by David Loucka and Jonathan Mostow.
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue, and Max Thierot.

Posted by Andrew

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