Directed by Mark Tonderai
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
I used to love the notion of “unrated” cuts of films. It promised that we would see footage the MPAA wouldn’t allow us to! Unrated cuts could give us the original director’s vision that might not have been allowed into multiplexes or outrageous footage that the censors felt they needed to keep from us! Now, any time I see the phrase “unrated!” on a Blu-ray or DVD case, I can’t help but laugh and shake my head as that tag has proven time and again to mean little in the way of quality footage being added back into a film. Especially if the film in question was released to theatres with a PG-13 to begin with.
Case in point: House at the End of the Street (or HATES, if you like – which I don’t). If you were to walk into your local video rental store (that is, if you still have one in your neck of the woods) or peruse your local Redbox or Blockbuster kiosk (Boo! Hiss!), you may run across a black-and-white image of star Jennifer Lawrence’s pretty, pouty mug with the title scratched over her in red. And below that – “Unrated”. Oooh.
Sad to say, this new cut of the film is likely as tepid as the one that polluted theatres a few months back, with only a few extra bits of violence that might garner the flick an R rating (but honestly, likely not). Regardless of these marketing shenanigans, it’s my solemn duty to report that, in any cut, House is an incredibly dull film, one that isn’t worth the time of grown-up horror fans or the pre-teens this was aimed at in the first place.
Lawrence stars as Elissa, a teenage songstress with a predilection for tight white tanktops who moves from the big scary city into a new country home with her mother, Sarah (Shue). Before long, Elissa discovers that she’s living next door to the site of a grisly double murder. Seems the folks who lived there were murdered by their batshit crazy daughter, who reportedly expired soon after but is rumored to haunt the hills of the nearby forest. Before long, J-Law finds herself attracted to the murdered couple’s son, Psycho Michael Cera (Thieriot – pronounced “Thigh Riot” in a perfect world), who lives alone in his dead family’s crime scene of a home. Spooky things start to happen, revelations concerning the original murder abound, and bodies begin to pile up as we drift toward a finale so boring you’ll fight to keep your eyes open.
Oh, folks, where to start. I really don’t see the point of this film. It certainly won’t appeal to adults. Or those looking for, y’know, a good movie. Likewise, it probably won’t appeal much to the younger crowd that its marketing was catered towards. But…I’ve always wondered about something. Working at a movie theatre, I’ve discovered that there are usually some manner of shitty PG-13 flicks that seem to piggyback onto the releases of higher profile R-rated releases (especially if they’re genre films). Say, if a big budget R-rated film is released, you can bet that a PG-13 “comedy” or parody will be right around the corner. If a hardcore R-rated horror flick is released, you can bet it’ll be preceded by or shortly followed with a teen-friendly, PG-13 spooker or slasher-lite of some sort.
The result? These watered-down bastards siphon off money from the real movies, as teens are either shuttled off to them instead of their harder flick of choice, or said teens buy a ticket to the softer movie, then sneak into the flick they came for in the first place. Either way, the PG-13 junk usually cashes in (and hey, they can always exploit that “unrated” tag later as a marketing ploy for the inevitable disc release). And for those wishing to keep score, House was released alongside Dredd and End of Watch and just after Resident Evil: Retribution – all “R” films.
Sound bitter, folks? Well sure, I suppose I am. It’s obvious that little love went into this Disturbia-esque take on Psycho, past the various homages (**coughRIPOFFScough**) sprinkled throughout this snoozer. And there’s the rub – why the hell wasn’t there any love put into this thing?!. They had the money, they had a solid cast, they even had a concept that, though well-worn, could’ve yielded an intense and damned satisfying little thriller. Instead, we’re smacked in the face with mediocrity at every turn here. The writing is weak, the direction half-assed (except for those few moments throughout that seem to have been lifted wholesale from other films), and the editing is downright obnoxious in the film’s first third (the would-be hip-hop montage during an early party sequence is a head-slapper).
I would forgive all of this if it seemed as though there was any effort put into this mess. If there was any indication that someone had been putting their heart into what they were doing. There isn’t. This is a just a mere cash-grab of a flick made by people who don’t give a damn about the time they’ve wasted (theirs, yours, or mine).
In addition to that dubious and entirely unearned “unrated” tag, 20th Century Fox brings House to disc with a – ah, you know what? Who gives a damn? Nobody interested in this film is going to care about how sharp its image is or how immersive the audio might be. You can see and hear the damned thing just fine, and in that regard the video/audio does viewers somewhat of a disservice. The sole special feature to be found here is Journey Into Terror (ha!), a featurette on the making of the film. No thanks.
Lookit, I don’t want to sound like a needlessly mean-spirited douche about this film, but dammit! One can only watch so many of these soulless bastards before venting about them. Maybe you want to see this. Maybe you’ll like it. But I doubt it. If you even remotely trust my opinion, avoid this flick and spend your time on something far more worthwhile than this.
1 out of 5
1 out of 5