The ubergenerically titled House at the End of the Street invites by its monicker classification alongside vicious modern horror granddaddies Last House on the Left (1972), Last House on Dead End Street (1977), and House on the Edge of the Park (1980); and, while House at the End of the Street is nowhere near as noteworthy as these films and will quickly be forgotten, it does at least offer enough unexpected twists not to be instantly forgotten by moviegoers looking for horror kicks.

It’s nigh-impossible to describe House at the End of the Street accurately and in much detail without giving away one of its major surprises, as it’s a film that pulls the risky stunt of switching antagonists at the halfway point.  A divorced woman (Elisabeth Shue, a long way from Adventures in Babysitting) and her daughter (Jennifer Lawrence) move into a home that’s affordable for them only because of the double murder that took place in the house nearest to them – which, they’ve been led to understand, is empty.  The suburban legend has it that the retarded feral girl who lived in the house and killed her parents is still living in the woods and remains a threat to the neighborhood.  In addition to their creepy new environs, mother and daughter are also dealing with healing emotional wounds of their own after what seems to have been a long bout of absentee parenting.  The tension between them becomes especially pronounced when the daughter befriends a handsome but spooky young man (Max Thieriot) and begins visiting his home without telling her mother where she is.

House at the End of the Street takes its time in getting to the goods and actually starts out like a disaster.  First, we see the double murder in retardo-vision, through the eyes of the killer, with intermittently blurry and shaky cinematography that’s more annoying than scary.  Then there are the disposable scenes with the local teens, wastrels just begging to get hammered to death after getting hammered.  Fortunately, the plotting is unexpected and manages to maintain viewer interest, even while the characters and the film overall leave something to be desired.  House does, however, rate 3.5 out of 5 stars for aspiring to surprise.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that House at the End of the Street is:

4. Anti-drug.  An unsupervised child playing outside has a horrible accident while her mother is in the house freebasing.

3. Philanthropy-skeptical.  A teen “famine relief group thing” is actually a front for decadent drinking parties.

2. Anti-family.  Parents are mean and undependable.  Children are wildcards and can turn out retarded or grow up to be serial killers.

1. Anti-human.  Are audiences really expected to care if such disposable characters get killed in a movie with such a self-consciously generic title?