Tuesday, October 2, 2012

House at the End of the Street [2012]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB review

House at the End of the Street (directed by Mark Donderai, screenplay by David Loucka, story by Jonathan Mostow) is a rather good "horror story" of the Hitchcockian mold.

Recently divorced Sarah (played by Elizabeth Shue), a nurse, and her teenage daughter Elissa (played by Jennifer Lawrence) move to a very nice spacious rental at the "edge of the woods," indeed at the edge of a State Park, near the "end of the street" in some suburban or upstate New York town.  The geography is important.  Bad things tend to happen "at the edge of town/civilization."  Perhaps even a somewhat "political" statement is being made here because we're told that "the edge of the woods" is actually "the edge of a State Park," hence "government owned" and in some American circles today, "government," _any_ "government" is equated with chaos, evil, sinister intent, etc.  So Sarah and Elissa are moving "to the edge of all that is good in this world."

Now the house is rather large for what a nurse could normally afford.  However, this particular house is something of a bargain because of what happened at the neighboring house, the true "house at the end of the street."  A couple of years ago, the very troubled teenage daughter of the family that lived there had brutally murdered her parents and then ran off into those woods at the edge of the street and never came back.  It was assumed that she somehow drowned in a nearby (again, presumably  public) "reservoir."  In any case, her body had never been recovered.

We're told that the townspeople, especially those who lived near the house where this awful event took place were, above all, upset because it "drove down their property values."  So here, presumably stereotypical "yuppie Republicans" were upset not so much that something deeply tragic had happened nearby, but rather that it hurt their pocketbooks.  (I find analyzing the "subtext" in horror films to always be "quite fun" ;-).  In any case, the sordid tragedy that happened in that "house at the end of the street" is presumably the main reason why Sarah and her teenage daughter could afford to rent the place next door...

To their surprise and to Sarah's horror soon after moving-in, the two discover that "the house at the end of the street" is _not_ abandoned.  Instead, the son of the murdered parents lived there now.  The son, named Ryan (played by Max Theriot) himself had something of a troubled past.  We're told that he had been sent to live with his aunt a number of years prior to the daughter's (his sister's) subsequent murder of the parents.  Now an adult, he chose to quietly live there in the house following the deaths of his parents and presumed death of his sister even if the townspeople and especially its young people really hated Ryan on account of his/his family's sordid past.

Into this local drama, of course, enter the recently divorced Sarah and her daughter Elissa, who are completely from out of town and who moved there only because Sarah got a job at a nearby hospital.  Elissa in particular enters the story nursing anger/resentment over the failed relationship of her parents.  Sarah on the other hand is working through the anger over having been more or less obviously betrayed and/or mistreated (in any number of ways) by her former husband.

These two, perhaps inevitable, stews of resentments come to clash over their perceptions of their new neighbor, Ryan.  Elissa sees a victim, who was arguably mistreated by his parents in some unspecified way even before their murder, and now is being horribly mistreated by the townspeople including many of her classmates in her new school.  Sarah who had been "burned" (mistreated/betrayed/both?) by her former husband sees Ryan as simply an unexpected and certainly unwanted danger to her and especially to her still "young/naive" daughter.

Who turns out to be right?  Well see the movie ;-)

I found the movie to be surprisingly good, and (as is often the case) even better after sitting down to write about it.  It certainly won't win any Oscars, and I didn't (and wouldn't necessarily want to) pay full price for it.  But I would imagine that it would make for a pretty good older teen / young adult date movie, or something to definitely bring home and watch at home when it becomes a rental.

I don't think that the film is suited for the very young (you pretty much would have to be at least a teenager to understand its dynamics) but I do think that the PG-13 rating is appropriate.

<< NOTE - Do you like what you've been reading here?  If you do then consider giving a small donation to this Blog (sugg. $6 _non-recurring_) _every so often_ to continue/further its operation.  To donate just CLICK HERE.  Thank you! :-) >>   

No comments:

Post a Comment