Saturday, March 2, 2013

House At The End Of The Street

Rated PG-13
DIRECTOR: Mark Tonderai   STARRING: Jennifer Lawrence, Max Thieriot, Elisabeth Shue

CRITICAL SCORE:  6 / 10                    BULLET POINTS:  5 / 10

A quite young looney dudette shreds off her mommy and daddy's  mortal coils and goes missing. Fast forward to disenfranchised hot mother / daughter combo moving into the house next door to the town pariah, the brooding son who has inherited his dead 'rents house... and that house is at the end of that street, y'all. 

Here's what I remember from the trailer. Jennifer Lawrence is upset, hot and wearing a dirty tank top. So, SOLD, in other words. Again, missed a lot of movies at the theater this year due to shenanigans. A few friends with similar taste in movies told me House sucked. Me, I think Jennifer Lawrence is rad as fuck. Yes, she was awesome in Winter's Bone. But I don't mind telling you I've had a small crush ever since I saw her doing her press run before The Hunger Games. She's snarky, unaffected, majorly talented, easy on the eyes and the list goes on. There was no way I was not going to check this flick out. Honestly though, I only did because Lawrence is a really good actress. I was pretty much a clean slate going in, either way. So, did Jennifer sing me a siren song or, like the Talking Heads, should we be burnin' down the house?...

All right, all right, all right. This is the deal. House is actually not particularly horrible. This is a horror movie with training wheels. It's what a person who doesn't like scary movies can tolerate without waking up crying in their front yard with a poo stain on the back of their gown. I would kind of place this one in the odd category of "Horror For Beginners". My two cents is that Lawrence still hasn't done a real honest to genre horror film.
There is nothing new here that you haven't seen before, especially for genre fans. All of the supporting characters are your typical cast of offenders: the jocks, the nerds, the popular crowd, the arty kids, etc. The plot, setup, theme and story aren't pushing any new boundaries but aren't awful. It's pretty middle of the road fare. Nonetheless, Tonderai and crew do a solid job with what they are working with. The cinematography is gorgeous and Tonderai keeps things flowing at a good pace. The technical side of the film is well executed and precise. I would have loved to have seen what this director and crew could have done with a more inspired story.

The performances of the main cast are all solid but the notable exceptions that rise above here are Max Theriot and, no surprise, Jennifer Lawrence.  Theriot does a bang up job giving his character some layers beyond what is on the page. Being an actor, I'm honestly tougher on performances generally speaking. I'm especially tough when I see a character I would have been a great fit to play type-wise. So, put that in your pipe and smoke it. Taste the flavor. Coz' I'm saying Theriot did some fine work. Again though, would have loved to see what he could have done with a better written character. 

I'm not going to write off Jennifer Lawrence doing a great job like it's expected. Every role is a different challenge and I especially commend her for being stellar here because I don't think she had a lot to work with on the page. I'm not saying this script sucks eggs. I'm saying the script seems very vanilla bland mediocre unbitchin' non-non-crucial. So big props to Lawrence here for creating a compelling character I was actually interested in. Case in point, Elisabeth Shue, who I think is pretty ace, is totally wasted in this film. They should have given her character something to gnaw on because she would have rocked it out big time.

Some plot holes broke my ankles when I was strolling around. When House rolls credits, there are some backstory technicalities that cannot be frivolously explained away. Kind of falls apart if you think about it for a second. So maybe don't.

Police procedure. Look, I'm not too much of a fucking dillhole stickler. I let a lot of shit go. But when a character does shit that is wookies on Endor, I call shenanigans. The least of which, but probably more important, is that the actor playing the cop (Gil Bellows - who I give kudos for turning in a nice performance) should have been trained on how to hold his weapon. Little things like this give a horror flick a much needed grounding in realism and enhance the film in every aspect. Homeboy could have followed basic procedure with the same outcome.

Jen. Let's hang out. You sing to me. I sing to you. We can trade off playing songs and talking shit. We can revel in smartassery, hit a secluded beach at night, make a fire, have some laughs and be goofy. You can wear that tank top if you want. Doesn't matter. Either way, I'll be more captivated by the wit and substance of what you are actually saying then I am by your two friends there. 
 -Signed, every dude who is not a douchebag-

Max. Good show mate. Cheers!

The cinematography is ace.

Like a mummy drinking sand through a desert wind tunnel. Don't ask me, I just write this shit.

A horror flick with training wheels. Thus, I give it a lower rating then the critical score. If you're a fan of the genre, you could never see this and you wouldn't be missing anything. It's a solid enough flick technically but uninspired. Reviewing a movie like this sucks because there isn't much to grasp onto. It's neither horrible nor great. It's just kind of there. Unless you have a crush on the lead actress. Then, go for it. Seriously, I still really want to see Lawrence knock it out of the park in a real horror film. She is a captivating person to watch on screen. All of the best are. 

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