Studio: Relativity Media
Director(s): Mark Tonderai
Cast: Elisabeth Shue, Jennifer Lawrence, Max Thieriot
Run Time: 101 minutes
Theatrical Release: 09/21/2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
MPAA Explanation: for intense sequences of violence and terror, thematic elements, language, some teen partying and brief drug material
Common Sense Says: Dumb thriller will disappoint Hunger Games fans.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that House at the End of the Street is a thriller that many teens will want to see based on the fact that its star, Jennifer Lawrence, was in The Hunger Games. There's fighting, kidnapping, and killing, and dead bodies are shown, but very little blood and gore are on display. Language includes a few uses of words like "a--hole" and "bitch." Teen characters kiss and are clearly thinking about sex but are interrupted. Some characters drink too much, and "crack" (i.e. a lighter and some tin foil) is briefly shown in a flashback.
- Families can talk about the romantic relationship between the teen characters. Does it seem realistic? How is sex a factor?
- House at the End of the Street includes several murders without very much violence and gore. Does it still make its point? How does it compare to other thrillers and horror movies you've seen?
- Is the movie scary? Why or why not?
What's the story?
Teen Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) and her single mom (Elisabeth Shue) move from busy Chicago into a giant home in a small town; they got it cheap because it's next door to a creepy house where a small girl apparently killed her parents. Having trouble fitting in, Elissa is drawn to the college-age Ryan (Max Thieriot), who lives in the murder house, even though nobody in town likes or trusts him. Unfortunately, Ryan appears to be hiding something, but can Elissa find out what it is before it's too late?
Is it any good?
In 2011, another David Loucka screenplay, Dream House, attracted a top-notch cast and was turned into a terrible thriller. Amazingly, the exact same thing has now happened with another Loucka project, also with "House" in the title. This is one of those movies in which the nonsensical plot disintegrates the moment anyone starts asking questions. The movie requires the characters to act stupidly to help move things forward, and if they had seen any other movies, they would know not to do these things.Worse, the antagonist seems to have supernatural powers at various points -- able to sneak up on people or dispatch well-trained opponents -- but at other times is unable to hear characters creaking up the stairs. Oddly, the two Oscar-nominated leads, Shue and Lawrence, are quite affecting in the movie's straightforward scenes of character development. If HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET had only left all the dumb thriller stuff behind and concentrated on a mother-daughter drama, it might have gone somewhere.
The Good Stuff
Messages: A mother and daughter make an attempt to trust each other more and to try to communicate better, though this lesson is more or less buried in the scary story.
Role Models: Elissa is a fairly strong teen female who, for the most part, seems resourceful and self-reliant -- though she makes poor decisions whenever the plot calls for it.
What to watch out for
Violence Very little blood, though several characters die, and dead bodies are shown. Characters are shot and stabbed, and necks and legs are broken. Several teens gang up on one young man, punching and kicking. There's a scary prologue in which a young girl stabs her mother and father (no blood shown). Women are kidnapped and locked up.
Sex: The teen heroine kisses a college-age boy, and they move to a more comfortable location, presumably to take things a step further. They kiss some more but are interrupted before anything else happens. The heroine and her mother also wear tight white tank tops in many scenes. At a party, a teen boy tries to seduce a teen girl, saying he's "horny"; she tells him "no" and pushes him away.
Language: Language is fairly infrequent but does include a few uses of words like "s--t," "a--hole," "d--k," "bitch," "damn," "slut," and "piss," as well as "oh my God" and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).
Consumerism: A Campbell's soup can is shown, and the soup is opened and prepared. A Lay's chip bag is quickly shown, and Coca-Cola and Sears signs are briefly seen.
Drinking, drugs & smoking: In a flashback, a mother smokes what appears to be crack, using a lighter and tin foil. One scene takes place at a teen party, and though drinking isn't shown, one girl is shown to be drunk, passed out on a bed, and then throwing up in a bathroom. The main character's mother drinks too much wine at dinner, resulting in awkwardness and fighting.