Blu-ray Review: Horrendous ‘House at the End of the Street’ Rips Off ‘Psycho’

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
No votes yet

CHICAGO – Mark Tonderai’s “House at the End of the Street” is not to be confused with this year’s “The House Across the Street” or either version of “Last House on the Left.” What Tonderai hopes you mistake it for is a classy Hitchcockian homage evocative of the Master’s most shocking and immortal picture, 1960’s “Psycho.”

That’s exactly what the creatively starved mainstream multiplexes need: another uninspired rehash of “Psycho.” Imagine if Marion Crane grew bored with her horndog beau Sam and became attracted to sensitive, soft-spoken Norman Bates. Imagine if Norman spent time finding faces in the bark of trees with the same odd mixture of thoughtfulness and whimsy that Ricky Fitts exuded while watching footage of a floating bag in “American Beauty.” Blu-ray Rating: 0.5/5.0
Blu-ray Rating: 0.5/5.0

Yes, dear readers, this is a touchy-feely variation on “Psycho,” with blonde soon-to-be-victimized Elissa falling for the blatantly unhinged nutcase next door. Unfortunately, Elissa is played by two-time Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence, an extraordinary actress whose enormously expressive face naturally radiates fierce intelligence. Lawrence is so bright that it’s flat-out impossible to believe a single thing she says or does in this film. After agreeing to hitch a ride from creepy sociopath Ryan (Max Thieriot), a young man scarred by the mysterious murder of his parents, Elissa gets in the car, and the first words that her mouth chooses to carelessly blurt out are, “Your parents got killed!” This surely ranks as one of the dumbest lines ever uttered. It also exemplifies the profound lack of subtlety in David Loucka’s paint-by-the-numbers script. Every twist is instantly predictable from the word, “Go,” thus making the subsequent 101 minutes interminable to the point of torture. Editors Steve Markovich and Karen Porter apparently took their cue from Guy Ritchie while fragmenting the action with distorted frame rates and endless jump cuts that further cause this major theatrical release to resemble bargain basement FEARnet fodder.

House at the End of the Street was released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 8th, 2013.
House at the End of the Street was released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 8th, 2013.
Photo credit: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

As Elissa continues to make one maddeningly idiotic decision after another, Lawrence’s performance grows more and more detached. Will this film become a glaring blot on an otherwise remarkable career? Absolutely not. Lawrence rose from obscurity on “The Bill Engvall Show” for crying out loud. The exuberance that she displays in attempting to salvage this rancid turkey is rather lovely to behold, even if it’s ultimately a lost cause. In a year that cemented Lawrence’s status as a megawatt star (“The Hunger Games”) and a wondrously versatile actress (“Silver Linings Playbook”), this laughable misfire will fade blissfully from our collective cinematic memories.

“House at the End of the Street” is presented in 1080p High Definition (with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio), accompanied by English and Spanish subtitles and is available in a Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo pack. The alternate unrated cut is the exact same length as the theatrical version, and is also one hundred percent scare-free. In the disc’s sole featurette, Lawrence makes a telling observation. She says that she shared Elissa’s immense level of trust while choosing this project purely on the basis of her gut reaction to the material. It’s only fitting that Lawrence would learn Elissa’s obvious lesson that trust can sometimes land one in a world of trouble…or just a really lousy movie.

‘House at the End of the Street’ is released by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and stars Jennifer Lawrence, Max Thieriot, Elisabeth Shue, Gil Bellows and Nolan Gerard Funk. It was written by David Loucka and directed by Mark Tonderai. It was released on January 8th, 2013. The theatrical cut is rated PG-13. staff writer Matt Fagerholm

Staff Writer

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing


Advertisement on Twitter

archive Top Ten Discussions