House at the End of the Street | Movie Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
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House at the End of the Street 

Jennifer Lawrence can't salvage a cheap thriller

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This horror thriller about a mother and daughter who rent an exurban house next to a murder site has flashes of intelligence and humanity. Teen-age Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence), for instance, observes that deadly violence never seemed to lower the rent in their old city neighborhood; meanwhile, there are brushes with complexity in her tenuous relationship with her protective single mother (Elizabeth Shue), and in how Elissa bonds with the troubled young man who's the lone survivor of a massacred family (Max Thieriot). Meanwhile, Lawrence (Winter's Bone, The Hunger Games) is characteristically credible. Ultimately, though, director Mark Tonderai's movie is more in line with the dollar-store creepshow aesthetics of his unmotivated jumpy-cam and thudding soundtrack. After an hour of striking a balance between a gothic thriller and indictment of bad parenting, House at the End of the Street finally settles for validating small-town paranoia and xenophobia, and a strong action sequence or two can't compensate for the fundamental absurdity of the plot.

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