Saturday, June 4, 2022

REVIEW: House at the End of the Street (live action movie)

House at the End of the Street is a psychological thriller. I bought my copy brand new. 


Sarah, a divorced mother, moves into a gorgeous new home with her teenage daughter Elissa. The two have a rocky relationship, and it gets rockier when Elissa meets Ryan Jacobson, their college-aged neighbor. The Jacobson house is the reason why Sarah and Elissa can afford to live in their new home: several years ago, Carrie Anne Jacobson killed her and Ryan's parents and disappeared into the forest surrounding their home, thus driving down all the area property values (a much bigger concern for local homeowners than the fact that two people they presumably knew were brutally murdered).

Carrie Anne hasn't been seen since and is assumed to be dead. Ryan survived because he was living with his aunt at the time, but now he's back and is reluctant to sell his family's home. Elissa finds herself intrigued by Ryan, who is polite, sad, and withdrawn but seems to be equally intrigued by her. Unfortunately, Ryan is keeping some dangerous secrets.

I went into this blind, expecting it to be more of a ghost movie due to the image of Carrie Anne on the back of the DVD case (black-and-white, with Carrie Anne dressed in white and her hair covering her face, Sadako-style). That's not what it turned out to be, and I was a little surprised that it revealed as much as it did as early as it did. That, unfortunately, didn't work in its favor, because it meant I predicted a good bit of the "big reveal" well before it actually happened. After all, when your thriller reveals its twist really early, it's natural to think "okay, that probably means there's at least one more twist that's even bigger."

For the most part, this movie was a forgettable sort of okay. I had a tough time getting a grasp on Elissa and her family. For a while there, I thought her father might have died, but I think he and her mother just got a divorce? There was a conversation about how he was hardly ever there, but from the sounds of things, he'd been raising Elissa for a while before she somehow ended up with Sarah. At any rate, Elissa railed against any and all of Sarah's efforts to set up ground rules for her - I don't know which one I was supposed to sympathize with more, but I ended up being vaguely irked by both of them due to how they handled things. Sarah was downright rude towards Ryan for no reason that I could see beyond "the movie needs Elissa to have a reason to actively rebel against her mother right now." And Elissa got mad at her mother for the assumptions she made, while simultaneously doing things that confirmed her mother's concerns were valid.

Although this did have some suspenseful moments, particularly near the end, it was fairly predictable once I had a minute to think about its one surprising scene. There are definitely lots of better thrillers out there.

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