Jennifer Lawrence follows up the mega success of “The Hunger Games” with “The House at the End of the Street,” a creepy-house-next-door flick featuring good looking teens, a double murder and one pretty good Norman Bates impression.
Lawrence is Elissa, a seventeen-year-old from Chicago transplanted with her single mom (Elisabeth Shue) to a small town in search of a better life. They find a comfortable home in a nice neighborhood. The only drawback is that it is next door to the scene of a gruesome double murder. Years before little Carrie Anne bludgeoned her parents to death before disappearing off into the woods, where it is rumored she still lives today. When Elissa befriends Ryan (Max Thieriot), the only surviving family member, she discovers there’s more to the story than she had heard.
Much of the plot sounds like a campfire ghost story—“And the crazed killer lives in the woods to this VERY DAY!!”—and is about as scary as that story can be without someone holding a flashlight under their chin and yelling “Boo!” at the end.
There are some good atmospherics near the beginning and some tension of the “don’t you open that door!” kind, followed by the “don’t you go down those stairs” type which leads to a predictable ending. You won’t be on the edge of your seat, but you might move closer to the middle.
There are a few too many red herrings for “The House at the End of the Street’s” payoff to feel genuine, and some of the dialogue is unintentionally hilarious, (“At that hour,” says early riser Ryan,” when everyone is asleep it’s like all the best thoughts haven’t been taken yet.”) but Lawrence’s charisma is in effect and if they ever decide to remake “Psycho” again they should give Thieriot a call.