October 4th brings a special guest: Kevin Kangas visits to review ‘House at the End of the Street’

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MV5BMjIyNzQzOTkxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTExOTIwMDE@._V1_SY303_CR43,0,214,303_So kiddies, we have our first dual review for the Halloween movie marathon! Today, we are visited by Kevin Kangas. Kevin is the writer, director, and producer of Hunting Humans, Fear of Clowns, Fear of Clowns 2, Garden of Hedon, and Bounty. I had the pleasure to meet Kangas at Horrorhound in Pittsburgh and I was able to pick up signed copies of FOC and FOC2. If you like scary clown movies, you should definitely check out FOC/FOC2,  but if you aren’t that big of fans of serial killer clowns, you should watch anyway so you can be terrified. It’s all in good fun. 

Let’s see what Kangas has to say about 2012’s House at the End of the Street.

A teenager (Jennifer Lawrence) and her mother (Elisabeth Shue) move to a new town and make a gruesome discovery about the house next door in this tale of terror from Hush director Mark Tonderai. Shortly after learning that the neighboring house was recently the scene of a horrific double homicide, the curious teen forges a tender friendship with the boy who cheated death (Max Thieriot) on that fateful night. (summary from Fandango)

Kevin Kangas: So PJ asked some of us to do a review. To be honest, he blackmailed me by threatening to disclose the events of one Horrorhound Pittsburgh weekend when he, Patrick from Screamqueenz Horror Podcast, and the crew from NOLTP all got drunk in my room. Things happened. I’d describe them for you, but then again I’d rather just do the review.

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[SPOILERS] So I watched House At The End Of The Street or, as I like to call it, the movie title that makes me think it’s a sequel to The Last House On The Left.

It starts off on a bad note. Namely, we have 80 seconds of production company logos. Like four of them. This may be a pet peeve of mine, but if you’re going to put your fucking logos in the beginning of your movie, don’t also put them in the front-end credits too. You know, you see the Relativity star graphic and then the next thing you see the words “Relativity Media Presents”. No shit, Sherlock, I just saw the graphic.

“Okay, move past it, Kangas,” I say to myself. Let’s get to the movie.

The music swells. We see like 15 seconds of black. I’m thinking, “Did they not film enough material for their movie?” like I did for my first film “Hunting Humans”? In my defense we ran out of money and I also didn’t know exactly how much footage we needed to overlap the narration. In House’s defense they only had like six million dollars.

Let’s make this review all about me, huh?

Anyway, the movie starts and we see a scene where some creepy little girl(is there any other kind) attacks and kills her parents.

Cut to four years later and we meet The Hunger Games girl(Jennifer Lawrence) along with my high school crush Elizabeth Shue as her mom. If your first thought is “I’d like to be the meat in that sandwich” then our brains work on the same wavelengths.

We find out that Jennifer and her mom haven’t been living together for some reason. And they’ve just moved next door to the house where that creepy girl killed the two people. And a light comes on at night in that house, and that may or may not be spooky.

Turns out the creepy girl’s brother who wasn’t in the house during the murders has moved back into the house. The creepy girl was thought to have died but some say she still roams the woods nearby.

We cut to an awkward scene of Jen playing guitar and singing, and then we just dissolve out. Like, was that character development? She sings? Hope that goes somewhere.

House-at-the-End-of-the-Street-6Jen meets a dude who invites her to a party, so she goes with him, seems to like him. Then he tries to get busy with her, but she’s having none of it, and ditches the party to walk home. When it starts to rain buckets she accepts a ride from a hunky stranger, who it turns out is the brother of our creepy girl, named Ryan.

He tells her he likes to get up at dawn, write stuff. Stories. Because “all the good thoughts haven’t been taken yet.” Man, the creepy apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in this family.

Then, in one of the better jump-scares in the film, we find out that he keeps his homicidal sister locked in the basement, feeding and medicating her. He tells her that he’s met a cool neighbor and to leave her alone. Which seems weird since it appears he keeps her locked in the basement. So maybe he should have said, “On the off-off-off chance that you somehow break out of here in the course of this movie, please do not attack the hottie next door.”

“Dick-hole is the new asshole.” My new favorite line of the movie.

Jen later goes over to the guy’s house and they’re clearly attracted to each other. She even drops the subtle hint, when looking at his house, “Oooh, it’s so big.” Man if I had a nickel for every time a girl dropped that line on me…(I’d have a nickel)

We find out creepy girl had brain damage as a child from falling off the swingset, and ever since then had attacked the family for no reason.  This is going to shock no one but the creepy girl escapes and goes after Jennifer. Luckily brotherman catches her just before she gets to Jennifer, but not before we get treated to another jump scare.

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There’s some mother/daughter drama at dinner, and the next day mother’s getting cozy with the town sheriff. She doesn’t want her daughter spending time with Ryan, she tells him. But you know that’s exactly what Jennifer’s doing. Making out with him in his house, where creepy sister can hear it on the baby monitor her brother’s given her.

So she once again is smart enough to escape. Very selective brain damage. Big brother kicks Jennifer out, then chases his sister into the woods, barely catching her before she attacks a couple making out in a car.

In a plot twist I didn’t see coming, he accidentally kills her trying to keep her quiet. Then he mopes a bunch. At a diner.

At this point I’m not sure where the movie’s going. Jennifer’s doing a battle of the bands to showcase her singing and invites Ryan. Ryan gets to the school and in the worst-chaperoned school event of all time, has a bunch of bullies smash his car and then brutally attack him. Like literally 10 feet in front of the school entrance. He breaks one of the bully’s legs and runs off.

The bullies head off to torch Ryan’s house but Jennifer gets there just in time put out the fire. Then she finds tampons in Ryan’s trash can and realizes that either he’s got gender issues, or he’s been keeping other secrets.

mgid-uma-video-mtvHonestly I had a hard time paying attention to the plot here because Jennifer Lawrence took off her coat to put out the fire, and has only a white tank top on for the rest of the movie.  Talk about showcasing your talent.

She starts searching the house and she finds the door in the floor leading to where Ryan kept his sister.

At this point I’m sort of assuming it wasn’t Ryan’s sister, and that Ryan is crazy and just occasionally locks up women in his basement to pretend they’re his sister. Let’s see if I’m right.

Boom—she goes into the room and finds another girl in there. A girl we saw earlier at a diner who offered Ryan some pie on the house. So yep, mildly predictable.

Jennifer finds a lot of incriminating evidence in the trashcan including the girl’s ID. She promises not to tell anyone about the crazy sister in the basement, but Ryan doesn’t believe her. He knocks her out and locks her in the basement too.

And tells her everything. Ryan’s sister died as a child on the swing set, so it turns out the creepy girl who killed his parents was only trying to escape because she was being held captive by Ryan and his family. And now Ryan has decided to make Jennifer his new sister, his new “Carrie Anne”.

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The rest of the movie heads into pretty predictable territory. Like, predictable how stupid the sheriff is when dealing with someone he knows has Jennifer captive. Nope, don’t worry about backup on this one. Just go on into the pitch-black house and see if you can save the day.

On the whole the flick’s a moderately-entertaining, well shot and acted time-waster. Forgettable but not bad(with the exception of the super-unnecessary last shot twist). There’s some weird choices by characters during the whole final Jennifer-tries-to-escape-with-her-mom’s-help, but nothing too bad, and by the end Elizabeth Shue manages to show us a little of that Adventures In Babysitting spunk.

Final Thoughts:

  1.  It took me most of the movie to figure out the actor playing Ryan is the kid who plays Norman’s older brother in the Bates Motel TV series.
  2.  There are no clowns in this movie whatsoever, so it loses points in my book.
  3. After thinking about it, I’m not sure what they’re trying to say with that final shot. Was Ryan the “little girl” who killed his parents? Thus becoming Fight Club, where the girl he had in the basement and who he accidentally killed was all in his head? I don’t think so, because it makes little sense that he’d then kidnap the diner girl to try to turn her into his sister. Man, that fucking last shot was stupid.

PosterPJ: Well, Kangas pretty much summed up the movie exactly the way I felt. I thought it was a fairly enjoyable movie which really didn’t bring anything new at all to the table. Girl meets boy, boy tries to lock girl in basement. You know, the norm. Seriously, the movie was slightly transparent and I was pretty sure where it was going about halfway through (about the time when Ryan snaps his sister’s neck like a twig trying to get her to quiet down). Except it wasn’t his sister. His crack head dad buried his sister’s body in the woods when she died after falling off the swing. His mother then made Ryan dress up as his sister for years, filling the emptiness in the family with definite damage to young Ryan’s psyche.

Ryan ends up being forced to dress as his sister (a boy being forced to dress in female clothing at a formative age has produced a large number of more recent real life serial killers) and goes on to kill his parents and he then leads a life of total psychosis. He kidnaps other girls and forces them to live in his basement, acting out what he believes his sister’s life would have been.

Here are the lessons I learned from the film:

  1. Parents, don’t smoke crack. If you do, bad things will happen to your kids and they will eventually gut you. A lot.
  2. It’s never a good idea to mess with the quiet, strange guy. You will end up with either a broken neck (sister?) or a leg that is pointing in the wrong direction.
  3. Parents of teenagers are really, really dumb and do not understand anything about technology, even when it involves call forwarding.

Overall, I’d rate the movie a 7 out of 10. It wasn’t bad, but it was far from the best or scariest thing I have ever watched. Take a peek at the trailer below and see what you think!

Thanks to Kevin Kangas for participating in today’s Halloween movie marathon review! You can see more about Kevin’s work at his website which you can find here.

 

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