This 'House' is on a dead-end street

Review • A teen-age girl befriends a boy with a dark secret in this predictable and mean-spirited thriller.
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Jennifer Lawrence is too good for this.

The dynamic young actress who first impressed critics with her Oscar-nominated performance in 2010's "Winter's Bone" from Sundance and then wowed audiences as the spry Katniss Everdeen in this year's "The Hunger Games," now gets a bitter taste of Hollywood reality — her first bomb.

"House at the End of the Street" is a tired, predictable, but ultimately sadistic horror movie where a mad-slasher preys on helpless women. The city ought to board up this "House."

Lawrence plays yet another in a long line of victimized teen girls in the movies who can't seem to catch a break when it comes to knife-wielding killers. The only notable difference here is Lawrence at least plays the sufferer with a little more acting verve.

Elissa (Lawrence) is a teen who along with her divorced mother, Sarah ("CSI's" Elisabeth Shue), moves in next door to an infamous house where a double murder took place.

It seems the mother and father who used to live there were knifed to death by their homicidal teen daughter. Years later, the surviving son in the family, Ryan (Max Thieriot), has moved into the house but is secretly holding what appears to be his wacko sister in the cellar.

Yet living next to a maniacal killer isn't Elissa's only problem. The first half of the movie is embroiled in so much soapy teen angst between Elissa and the outcast Ryan, the movie feels like an over-wrought episode of "Dawson's Creek." Then when the killing is elevated in the second half, the script slips into a weary exercise in misogynistic murder.

There's no fun in watching hapless women get kidnapped, gagged, taped up and killed for the sake of what really is just an end-of-summer date movie (which also begs the question why such unpleasantness got away with a PG-13 rating).

At least the zero-budget grindhouse movies of the 1970s, such as "The Texas Chainsaw Murders" or "The Last House on the Left" that this movie appears to emulate, had a wicked sense of humor and a raw energy that buoyed their otherwise gruesome subject matter.

But "House at the End of the Street" has none of that. It's just on a street that's leads to a dead end. —


'House at the End of the Street'

Jennifer Lawrence stars in this sadistic but tired exercise in which she tries to escape a murderer.

Where • In theaters everywhere

When • Now open

Rating • PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and terror, thematic elements, language, some teen partying and brief drug material.

Running time • 101 minutes