HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET (Mark Tonderai). 101 minutes. Opens Friday (September 21). See listings. Rating: NN
House At The End Of The Street seems to answer the prayers of those who complain that the horror genre has degenerated into a game of blood-soaked one-upmanship.
This thriller is very much influenced by - or ripped off from - Psycho. The scares are safe, designed to cause jumps and psychological unease. But it's bland, boring and old-fashioned in the worst possible sense.
Jennifer Lawrence and Elisabeth Shue star as a mother and daughter who move to a new town for a fresh start and end up living next door to a house where a terrible murder occurred. A preteen girl once murdered her parents there and disappeared; now her brother (Max Thieriot) lives in the house. Lawrence's personality-free character falls for the romantically mysterious young man even though it's clear to the audience and everyone onscreen that something is deeply wrong with him.
Lawrence and Shue are almost good enough to get the audience to invest in the story by David Loucka, who also wrote the dud Dream House.
The challenge in this sort of thriller is carefully ratcheting up the tension and creating compelling characters to draw audiences in and give the few slow-burn thrills some emotional impact. Instead, we get clunky dialogue and melodrama masquerading as human behaviour.