Making the Grades
After she became a household name in The Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence is a hot property for teen targeted titles, and this one fits that bill perfectly. Having just moved from the big city to a house in a wooded, small town neighborhood, Lawrence’s character Elissa and her mom Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) realize they were only able to rent their upscale, sprawling home due to an incident that happened next door.
Four years prior to their arrival we see the gruesome event of young Carrie Anne murdering her parents, leaving only her brother to survive the tragedy. There is also the rumor that Carrie Anne’s body was never found and that she’s still roaming the forest. Now Ryan (Max Thieriot) lives in the home by himself and the neighbors are anything but compassionate. They feel the house has eroded property prices and want it destroyed. Elissa however, is developing feelings for the estranged orphan occupant, especially when he offers the only hope for a safe ride home after she’s been hit on by a sexually aggressive senior boy from her school.
With her protective mother worried about her daughter’s rescue project, Elissa begins covering her tracks with lies about where she is going and call forwarding the home phone to her cell when her mom checks in on her from work. Of course this, and a myriad of other stupid decisions, will cause problems once the terror begins.
Targeting adolescent audiences with its relatively young cast, HATES (the acronym given to this movie’s lengthy title) offers overly dramatic dialogue. Light on gore but heavy on jump scenes, the movie will be effective at convincing youth that the strange person on their street is a deranged killer. While blood is minimal we do see two people killed. A fight between young men is also depicted with one receiving a bone-breaking injury. Teens are involved in a couple of sensual scenes, as well as partying, gambling and consuming alcohol. One character gets drunk to the point of vomiting and at least one other is seen driving a car after imbibing. Recreational drug use by adults is depicted as well, albeit in a negative context.
Between the all-too-typical script and content issues, there are few reasons to put your money down on this film. From an artistic point of view the plot includes a couple of good twists and there are some capable actors on the screen—Lawrence being one of them. It’s just unfortunate the performers don’t have any substance to work with, and there is no sense of subtlety to build convincing horror. Good chance you can pass by this house and not miss much.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about House at the End of the Street.
In one scene in this film Elissa’s mother, after drinking some wine, abruptly informs her daughter and Ryan that they are not to spend any time alone together in either of their homes. Is this a reasonable demand? Would they have been more likely to accept this “guidance” if it were presented in a more kindly manner? Considering the movie’s target audience, how do you think the filmmakers want you to feel about this parent?
The cell phone becomes a big part of this plot. Do you think cell phones improve or deteriorate relationships between parents and teens?