Jennifer Lawrence’s latest endeavour, House At The End Of The Street, is worlds apart from her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen in the recent Hunger Games. Here, Lawrence dives in to the realm of horror as the seventeen-year-old Elissa who is the polar opposite of the strong, independent young women that she has played in previous films.
House At The End Of The Street (or HATES, as it’s being referred to) follows the typical clichés found in American teen horrors: the dialogue isn’t particularly skilfully written and this actually impedes the abilities of each actor; Elissa comes across as a typical seventeen-year-old brat which, surprise surprise, gets her in to deadly amounts of trouble; and there are some jumpy scenes and a few surprises, but it seems that the writer has taken horror movie tips from Randy in the first Scream movie.
Having said that, it is actually quite enjoyable up until the inevitable capture of our impudent protagonist. Writer, Jonathan Mostow, has clearly tried to create some character depth with the added information that she was a singer in a band, which, as lovely as this piece of information is, is ultimately pointless and adds nothing to the plot. We find that Elissa’s mother (Elisabeth Shue) has been absent throughout her childhood – something that leads to her disruptive behaviour – and that due to her mother’s nursing job, Elissa is free to disobey and ultimately become victim to the killer’s nefarious schemes.
An interesting, yet inevitable twist upon the protagonist’s capture does showcase Mostow’s ability to weave a clever and intriguing story, but his inability to support it with dialogue and action that doesn’t reek of cliché, or make the viewer instantly frustrated, still shines through. There is, of course, the completely competent police officer whose torch happens to black out just as he reaches the killer’s house, and the classic scene where the protagonist yells a “Hello?” into the darkness, as though she expects the murderer to respond with a quick “Oh, hey. Just in the basement sharpening my knife. Come down when you’re ready.”
Overall, HATES is enjoyable but isn’t worth a second watch. Lawrence carries the film, but her usually excellent acting talents are hampered by the awful dialogue and at some points it seems as though she herself has given up on the screenplay. The twists are unexpected and do add some relief to the otherwise dull and predictable horror imagery on display here. A fine film for a movie night at a friend’s but it isn’t worth the ticket price.