House at the End of the Street

Go see it, you sniveling cowards. I DARE YOU!

House at the End of the StreetAs previously demonstrated in her Oscar nominated role in Winter’s Bone (2010) and her tremendous performance in this year’s The Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence is developing into a powerful actress. She could actually be the American twin of the sterling Swedish actress of the foreign film version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009), Noomi Rapace, as both prove that if you are going to kick the living crap out of them, you better kill them or retribution is coming your way.

Ms. Lawrence demonstrates her admirable skill again in the underrated House at the End of the Street. Here, she is a high school student who moves with her mother (Elizabeth Shue) from Chicago to a new house on the edge of a state park. The problem is that nearby is the dilapidated home where a teenage daughter was alleged to have brutally butchered her parents four years earlier.

Don’t be misled by the previews, as this film in no way involves supernatural forces. Instead, Ms. Lawrence’s character, Elissa, befriends Ryan (Max Thierlot), a college student and the only surviving family member who continues to live alone in the home where his parents died and his sister, Carrie Ann, was thought to have drowned in a nearby river.

What unfolds is a frightening tale that gradually grabs you by the throat. Everyone suspects Mr. Thierlot as being damaged goods, and the high school kids brutally taunt him. When a fight occurs one evening at a high school party where Thierlot brutally injures one of his assailants, a nightmare unfolds in his home when he is tracked down by the concerned Ms. Lawrence. A monster awaits, and it’s not the monster that you are led to believe.

Without giving anything away, it quickly becomes evident that Mr. Theirlot is keeping his sister locked away in a room located in a hidden basement, and things quickly get out of hand. Is that her running through the woods with a knife, and if not, who in God’s name would be impersonating her? The answer is both chilling and unexpected, and this is worth a trip to the theater if you are a fan of good horror movies.

The only downside from my experience was that I was the only one in the theater, a somewhat uncomfortable experience for these types of films. Given what happened to me years ago at the old Sony theater at Lafayette Square here in Indianapolis, I always sit in the last row to make sure that I am not joined by some unexpected person, human or not.

I’m referring to the time when I went to see the first remake of The Mummy (1999), staring Brendan Frazer. Sitting in the dark alone, I was watching the opening credits where Rachel Weisz was closing a museum in the midst of old mummies laying in their coffins. As she was about to leave a large room, one of the mummies suddenly leaned forward, at which point someone grabbed the back of my shoulder. As I jumped up yelling, I could only recognize a guy standing in the dark holding something in his hand. I kept yelling, “What in the hell are you doing?”, and I could only partially hear him.

In any event, he finally leaned forward and said, “Sir, are these your keys? I think you left them at the counter when you came in.” I stopped, discovered they were my keys, and politely told him that if he ever needed to repeat this good deed, at least have the sense not to do so during a scary moment of a film! He nodded, we both laughed, and I have never permitted myself to sit anywhere than the last row in a scary movie should the human race continue to abandon me during a scary movie.

No, I wasn’t inadvertently battered during this film, but I must admit that I sat there scared out of my miserable wits. This is the one time where I am thankful for being partially blind in my left eye, as I can simply put my hand over my right eye and minimize the trauma by only seeing a vague outline of characters on the screen. I know that is a coward’s way out, but it is a small price to pay for minimal peace of mind.