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'House at the End of the Street' review: The location really has nothing to do with it

*1/2 (out of four)

Katniss wouldn't last a day with the survival skills of Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence of "The Hunger Games"), who subscribes to the age-old horror movie philosophy that an ominous noise outside means open the door, and personally investigating a mysterious lair hidden below a basement takes priority over calling for help.

For extremely vague reasons, she and her mom (Elizabeth Shue) had to leave Chicago, and apparently they couldn't pass up the low rent on a house in small-town Woodshire, Penn.--even though the price reflects its location across from a house where a girl murdered her parents. Now seems like a good time to point out that "House at the End of the Street" was written by David Loucka, who wrote the likewise contrived "Dream House" about a family who moves into a house where murders took place. Let's all eagerly anticipate Loucka's next script, in which people arrive at a house two doors down from the site of a tragedy.

Everyone in town ignores Ryan (Max Thieriot), the lone surviving family member who eerily remains in the house four years after the massacre. Elissa likes him, however, mostly as an alternative to the douchier neighbor (Nolan Gerard Funk) who tries to force himself on her. Loucka and director Mark Tonderai (who played "Egyptian orderly" in 2002's "The Four Feathers") scatter a few breathless moments among countless ideas that either lead nowhere, make no sense or both. Does this small town have no news reports? How does a character without any identifiable muscle possess super-human strength? More importantly, can we do Lawrence a favor and forget this ever happened?

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

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