HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET

An entertaining damsel in distress thriller graced by two fine actors as the damsel and her (maybe) nemesis. Jennifer Lawrence is on a roll these days, and here, her inherent toughness makes her more than just a girl in danger. With many of these kind of thrillers, the don’t-go-in-the-basement factor brings giggles when pretty protagonists poke their noses into places anyone with an ounce of sense would avoid. But Lawrence always seems fearless — it’s what makes her turn as Katniss in THE HUNGER GAMES so interesting. So when she ignores warnings to stay away from the kid with the bad reputation, or finds the trap door leading to the basement and ventures downstairs, her willfulness is believable. That toughness is nicely clarified by Lawrence’s rocky relationship with her mother, well played by hard-bitten Elizabeth Shue, unhesitant to show a blowzy, desperate side as a mom with a past. It is Max Thierot, however, who is given the showiest role and who plays it so quietly and craftily, you don’t know whether to give him a reassuring hug or be creeped out — which is exactly Lawrence’s reaction and the motor that drives the plot to its worthwhile double twist. — Jeff Schultz

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