'End of the Street' predictable, yet smarter

Jennifer Lawrence in House at the End of the Street. (Handout)

Jennifer Lawrence in House at the End of the Street. (Handout)

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:15 AM ET

The House at the End of the Street begins with a terrible murder taking place ... in a house ... that's at the end of the street. Are we typing too fast for you?

A husband and wife are killed by their own child, who flees into the forest.

Four years pass.

Now Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) and her daughter Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) are moving into a house near the scene of the crime. They've come from Chicago, hoping to make a fresh start, and the rent is cheap at their new place because it's so close to the house where the murders took place.

Unbelievably, someone still lives in the murder house. The killer daughter vanished at the time of the crime and is presumed dead; the only surviving member of the family is the son, Ryan, a reclusive college student who is reviled by everyone in town. He lives alone in the house where his parents died. It's creepy. Still, Elissa's heart goes out to Ryan. She meets him when he offers to drive her home one night, turning up just in time to rescue her from an aggressive classmate. He's friendly, he's polite and he's her neighbour, so Elissa befriends Ryan without hesitation.

Elissa's mother isn't happy about this. She doesn't know what kind of psychological damage has been done to Ryan, given the tragedy in his family. She and Elissa have a difficult relationship, and Sarah struggles with the parental role. Elissa has to be very independent, which serves the story. Her attraction to Ryan goes from friendship to something more quite quickly.

Let's leave it at that. Fans of the horror-thriller genre know that options are limited in this kind of tale. There are only so many ways the narrative can go, and though The House at the End of the Street is smarter than most films of the genre, it still has some fairly predictable plot turns.

The performances are first-rate and the story has more psychological twists than jump scares -- a welcome change -- but for some viewers, there will be no surprises here. At all. The House at the End of the Street is a mild diversion meant for teenaged audiences who don't already know how the story ends.

liz.braun@sunmedia.ca


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