House at the End of the Street

House at the End of the Street (could this title be any more generic?) is currently available on instant Netflix.

One Line Review: Inoffensive, watered down horror brightened by Jennifer Lawrence.

House at End of Street

House at the End of the Street (2012) – Rated PG-13

“Moving to a new town proves even more stressful for a teenage girl when she learns that the house next door was the site of a double murder. But after making friends with the victims’ son, she realizes there may be more to the story.”

“Is that Mr. and Mrs. Dead People’s house?”

Okay this isn’t fair to lay solely at the feet of this movie but House at the End of the Street begins with an animated logo from Relativity Media. This is followed by animated logo for Rogue, which is a Relativity Media company! We then get another animated logo from Filmnation and not to to be left out a final animated logo from A Bigger Boat. This is before ANY of the credits, which by the way begin with “relativity media presents” and then segues into “a filmnation entertainment / a bigger boat production”. Ugh – definitely one of the annoying trends in movies is this double-thanking of everyone before the movie even starts. /rantmodeoff

You can’t really argue with the cast here. Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence is our teenager in distress. Elissa. Before you point out that Lawrence won after this film, she had also been nominated for her performance in Winter’s Bone back in 2010. Lawrence plays her role well while still always exuding likability. She really reminds me of Tom Hanks in that regard.

Academy Award nominee Elisabeth Shue plays her mom, Sarah, and is another actress that always seems affable. Max Thieriot, currently seen as Dylan Massett on Bates Motel, is good as the mysterious orphan, Ryan. The other young people involved are rather neutral, not being given much to do.

The basic premise is intriguing but not well-realized. Some of the plotting leaves much to be desired. I certainly had my share of encounters with bullies growing up and they don’t tend to commit felonies out in the open, such as destroying a car in front of dozens of witnesses without provocation. The movie was obviously written with the end shot in mind and yet that shot is a foregone conclusion unless you fell asleep.

House at the End of the Street is more mystery than horror and, because of the teen-friendly PG-13 rating, the violence is toned down quite a bit. The reveal is nice and the cast is good but overall the film is just meh.

People Watch: Gil Bellows, who plays Weaver here, has certainly had a colorful career. While not instantly recognizable, he played regular Billy Thomas in Ally and Ally McBeal as well as roles in The Shawshank Redemption and The Weather Man.

Final Days of Planet Earth – Seriously The End is Nigh! week

For a disaster of a different sort, Final Days of Planet Earth is currently available on instant Netflix.

One-Line Review: Very slow first half almost made up for by special effects laden finale.

Final Days of Planet Earth (2006) – Not rated

“Archaeologist Lloyd suspects foul play after the government shuts down his dig, and after more excavation, he unearths an alien plot to wipe out humanity. The ringleader is Liz, a blood-sucking space creature masquerading as a city official.”

Okay the year following Category 7, we have another new Canadian miniseries: Final Days of Planet Earth. Because it’s not nature but alien invaders, there is less for me to nitpick.

Since we aren’t following the disaster formula, Final Days of Planet Earth has only one star, Daryl Hannah. Hannah gets to have fun here though not nearly so much as in Kill Bill. While top-billed (and with plenty of screen-time), Hannah isn’t the star here. Our protagonist is archaeologist Lloyd Walker, played by Gil Bellows (Billy from Ally McBeal).

The script borrows ideas liberally from much better films: Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Lifeforce, even They Live. There are still some gaffes – the good guys decide to ride a bus to the outskirts of town, the bus is labeled “Downtown Express”. The good guys are always short of weapons, they kill some cops and don’t take their weapons.

The first part is deliberately slow which is a bit disappointing but it was clear that they knew where they wanted to end the first part and worked backward from there. The second half is much faster paced and wastes no time racing towards the conclusion. The miniseries is fairly middle-of-the-road, neither very good nor terribly bad. If you especially like alien invasion stories then it’s worth a look, otherwise take a pass.

People Watch: Campbell Scott who plays William Phillips in Final Days also plays Richard Parker (Peter’s father) in The Amazing Spider-Man.