Tuesday, October 22, 2013

House at the End of the Street - Built on flimsy foundation

‘The Hunger Games’ star Jennifer Lawrence leaves her Katniss Everdeen avatar in the woods for a dark thriller ‘House at the End of the Street’.

Feeling disappointed

Lawrence plays Elissa, an angst ridden high school student with vocalist aspirations. She meets Ryan, the quiet and sensitive good looking kid on the block who has been marginalized by the community because he lives in a house in which two murders had taken place. It turns out Ryan’s sister, Carrie Anne, butchered her parents four years ago. This crime echoes throughout the film and brings about unexpected consequences. As the film goes a chilling truth is revealed. Carrie Anne is alive and kept under lock and key by her brother in a room hidden under the basement of the house.

‘House at the End of the Street’ manages to impress in its camera angles. The shadows and light are used superbly to reflect the dark nature of the tale. This adds the much needed boost to the movie because it has nothing much to boast about.

Though bloodless, ‘House at the End of the Street’ has its chilling side with dark gloomy imagery dominating the scene. However once the scary bits are over one cannot help feeling disappointed because the terror does not live up to the viewer’s expectations.

One of the major loopholes in the storyline is why the citizens in the town had not become aware of Carrie Anne’s presence before Elissa and her mother made it to the scene. Carrie Anne’s escapes from the basement are regular but Ryan does not take steps to prevent her from seeking out her next escape. Since she managed to wriggle her way out several times in the short period that the movie runs one wonders why the citizens in the village were not at least suspicious about what is going on in the house. Director Mark Tonderai and screenplay writer David Louka should have thought about this aspect while going through the plot of the tale. They should have penned a story which would convince the audience that such an incident did take place. Instead what we get is an unstable story with underdeveloped characters.

Nothing exceptional

Another minus point in ‘House at the End of the Street’ is that hardly anything takes you by surprise. Most of the scenes like the dinner bawl, the daughter siding with the village outcast and the heroine being kept prisoner after the truth is revealed is borrowed from other movies from this genre. There are no visually pleasing scenes which leave you awestruck or particularly horrifying episodes which chill you to your bones. Therefore you are bored when you have reached half way through the story.

Lawrence tries hard to impress but even she cannot add life into this bland production. It seems a pity that an actress of her caliber should even consider a role in this kind of movie. We have seen her dish out many exceptional performances in movies like the Academy award wining ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and though this film too was made during the same period she could have reserved her energy for something more in her league.

Max Thieriot gives a poor performance as Ryan Jacobson. Since it is an extremely challenging role which demands the character to reflect his inner turmoil Thieriot could have made maximum use of this opportunity to bask in the limelight. Instead he seemed to have sleep walked through the role because his act is forgettable. Supporting characters like Officer Bill Weaver and Sarah Cassidy played by actors Gil Bellows and Elizabeth Shue do a better job in capturing the audience’s attention. You have seen every twist and turn of this movie before it is played on screen. Do not expect the unexpected when you watch this production because there is nothing exceptional which will take you by surprise. If you have better things to do with your time, give this one a miss. by Ruwini Jayawardana