Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jennifer Lawrence, Max Thieriot, Elisabeth Shue, Gil Bellows, Eva Link, Nolan Gerard Funk, Allie MacDonald, Jordan Hayes, Krista Bridges, James Thomas, Hailee Sisera, Craig Eldridge, Jonathan Higgins, Olivier Surprenant, Lori Alter
Written by: David Loucka, based on a story by Jonathan Mostow
Directed by: Mark Tonderai
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and terror, thematic elements, language, some teen partying and brief drug material
Running Time: 101
Date: 09/21/2012

House at the End of the Street (2012)

1 Star (out of 4)

Wrong Address

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Last year, David Loucka's screenplay Dream House attracted a top-notch cast and was turned into a terrible thriller. Amazingly, the exact same thing has happened with another Loucka screenplay (also with "House" in the title). This is one of those movies wherein the nonsensical plot disintegrates the moment anyone begins asking questions.

Teen Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) and her single mom (Elisabeth Shue) move from busy Chicago into a giant house in a small town; they got it cheap because it's next door to a creepy house wherein a small girl apparently killed her parents. Having trouble fitting in, Elissa is drawn to the college-age Ryan (Max Thieriot), who lives in the murder house, even though nobody in town likes or trusts him. Unfortunately, Ryan appears to be hiding something, but can Elissa find out what it is before it's too late?

The movie requires the characters to act stupidly to help move things forward, and if they had seen any other movies, they would know not to do these things. Worse, the antagonist seems to have supernatural powers at various points, able to sneak up on people or dispatch well-trained opponents, but at other times is unable to hear characters creaking up the stairs. Oddly, the two Oscar-nominated leads, Shue and Lawrence, are quite affecting in the straightforward scenes of character development. If only this movie had left all the dumb thriller stuff behind and concentrated on a mother-daughter drama, it might have gone somewhere.
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