Movie at the End of my Patience
While it’s been nice having a new horror movie released in theaters four out of the last five weekends, I’d prefer a little quality over quantity. I kind of liked The Possession, but was underwhelmed by Resident Evil: Retribution and would rather entirely forget The Apparition. This weekend’s entry was House at the End of the Street. Not quite as awful as The Apparition, it nevertheless drove me to the end of my patience.
House at the End of the Street starts promisingly enough as a young girl savagely murders her parents late at night. Years later, divorced mother Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) and her daughter, Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence), move to town, not into the house where the murders occurred, but into the house that overlooks it through the woods of the state park. So, technically, I guess it’s not really the house at the end of the street. But “House on the Other Side of the Park” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Although there is some annoying forced dialogue that explains Sarah and Elissa’s circumstances (tell me, don’t show me), the early scenes promise some depth to what might otherwise be a familiar story, even more so as they meet their morally-questionable neighbors and it is revealed that the son, Ryan (Max Thieriot), who was “away” during the murders now inhabits the house. And it is here that I first scratched my head. The townspeople treat him like Frankenstein’s monster. They’re more concerned about falling property values than displaying at little compassion.
Perhaps I just don’t know any people who would really act that way. The same could be said for the character of Elissa. She behaves in confounding ways. She not only shares the I’ve-got-to-investigate-no-matter-how-scared-I-am gene of many other horror movie heroines, but also speaks and acts without logical thought in ordinary, everyday circumstances. It makes it hard to relate to her, much less have any concern for what happens to her.
It turns out there may be a reason for the townspeople to be afraid of Ryan. We learn fairly early, so I don’t consider this a spoiler, that Ryan is keeping his demented sister, Carrie Anne, locked in the basement. And she is prone to escaping, running through the woods and almost scaring the new neighbors until her loving brother catches her and injects a sedative into her neck. If I scratched my head earlier, I now drew blood as I scratched harder. The explanation for this situation makes no sense.
However, there is then a significant twist that momentarily answered my concerns… until I had a moment to think about how much less sense the situation now made. At that point, House at the End of the Street becomes a tedious game of hide and seek that drags far too long. And by the time the flashlight with weak batteries appears, I was ready to give up. It’s a poor man’s version of the Polaroid in Silent House, but the way it’s introduced is more heavy-handed and less original.
A final scene tries to shed light on everything that precedes it, but is as ineffective as the rest of the movie. There are parts of House at the End of the Street that I wanted to like, but it fought against me every step of the way.
The next couple weeks of box office releases includes Hotel Transylvania and Frankenweenie, two animated features geared for the horror fan of all ages. I’m ready for the change of pace. But then it’s back to the standard with Sinister on October 12th. Let’s hope it marks an improvement in quality and gives us a reason to watch new movies at the theater for Halloween instead of watching our favorite classics at home.