I had avoided any trailers for this film and all I knew was that it had Jennifer Lawrence starring in it. For some reason I thought was going to be some sort of cliché haunted house story but I was surprised that it turned out to be a mystery thriller and I’m sure I could re-watch it and pick it apart and see the story fall to pieces but for a first time watch it kept me interested enough.
The film opens with a couple in bed being disturbed by their daughter Carrie Ann walking about in the hall. The daughter brutally kills both her parents with a hammer then runs off into the nearby forest.
Four years later Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence)and her mother Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) move into a large house they are renting in a town at the edge of a National Park forest. The house would normally be much more than they could afford but after the brutal murder in the house next door property prices in the neighbourhood have taken a nosedive. Sarah is doctor and has got a job at the local hospital while is a high school student. Elissa’s father is a musician and is divorced from Sarah and he spent a lot of time on the road while Sarah’s work kept her busier than Elissa would have liked so there is bit of friction between Elissa and her mother.
At a neighbourhood party (what the hell is a potlach?) Sarah and Elissa meet most of the neighbours. One of the neighbours introduces Elissa to her son Tyler (Nolan Gerard Funk), talking about all his achievements and charity work. He is fit and full of himself and Elissa is not very sure about him. Sarah had thought the murder house was empty but it turns out that Ryan, the son of the murdered Jacobsons, still lives there alone. There isn’t much sympathy from the neighbours considering he lost his family. Instead the neighbours seem more worried about how the house’s existence affects the value of their houses.
Next day Tyler invites Elissa to his charity fundraising meeting that night and as soon as Elissa arrive she realise it is really a sleazy drunken teenage party and the charity fundraising just involves handing over some of their allowances to fool their parents. When looking for toilet in a bedroom she finds Jillian (Allie MacDonald) who is lying on a bed feeling a bit too drunk and has to run off to the bathroom urgently. While she is gone Tyler comes in and he’s a gotten a lot drunker and a lot more rapey. After fighting him off Elissa has had enough and leaves.
It is a long ten mile walk back home but passing car stops in front of her and the driver introduces himself as Ryan Jacobson (Max Thieriot), her new neighbour. He offers to drive her home but Elissa is a bit nervous and turns down his offer. A moment later the rain starts and Elissa changes her mind. Elissa wants to know about the murders and why Ryan still lives there. Ryan is happy that someone wants to talk to him about it since most people in town just avoided him altogether. His story is that he was sent away to live with an aunt and his brain-damaged little sister Carrie Ann killed their parents. Later we find out that the brain damage is because of an accident when she fell off her swing and Ryan blames himself even though his parents were out of their heads smoking meth in the house instead of watching them.
Of course Elissa falls for Ryan but Sarah is a bit concerned when she finds out and has a quiet word with Sheriff Weaver (Gil Bellows) at the hospital. Weaver likes Ryan and has never heard any complaints about him apart from the property value but he does get picked on by other local kids. Sarah wants Elissa to concentrate on graduating high school and is worried that Ryan will distract her by becoming her next ‘wounded bird’ project. She tries to lay down the law that they are never to be alone together but realises she’s over-compensating for years of neglect and guilt at her own wasted youth and Elissa knows it too
The central mystery of the film is what happened to Carrie Ann after the murders? There are of course local scary stories that she still lives in the forest but as Elissa and Sarah uncover the story they find out things are not what they seem.
I think this film is okay but not very memorable. It draws you in and makes you think it’s letting you on its secrets but it has a few twists at the end which you might be able to figure out. It isn’t very original and a lot of the background characters are just sort of there. It really feels like a TV movie that got promoted to cash in on Jennifer Lawrence becoming a star name after the Hunger Games was surprise hit.
- Rotten Tomatoes
- House at the End of the Street (2012) (filmoanalysis.wordpress.com)
- House at the End of the Street (2012): Naughty Neighbours (mikesfilmtalk.com)