Here are a couple of video features about House and the End of the Street. One features Jennifer Lawrence and he other Max Thieriot and both give a good idea of this horror thriller which opens today.
House and the End of the Street – Features
House and the End of the Street – Official info about the production
A spooky, decaying house, a young man with a terrifying secret and a teenage girl with a mind of her own are classic elements of horror-thriller movies, but in House at the End of the Street, a team of ambitious and creative filmmakers transcends the genre with moody, stylish visuals, realistic and relatable characters, and mysterious secrets hidden in plain sight.
“House at the End of the Street is complicated in the way most good movies are,” says producer Aaron Ryder. “It is a bit of a Hitchcockian thriller, geared toward a younger audience with a great young cast. The script is really good—and by that I mean really scary.”The characters in House at the End of the Street are haunted by a horrific tragedy that took place several years before the movie starts. “A couple was murdered by their mentally handicapped daughter who has disappeared,” says Ryder. “Now Elissa and her mother Sarah move into the house next door to where this massacre happened. There is a single survivor, a young man named Ryan, still living in the house. Elissa begins a relationship, maybe her first love, with this kid. But it turns out there’s an underlying evil within this town.”
Although this taut psychological thriller is full of the kinds of twists and surprises that keep audiences on the edge of their seats, House at the End of the Street is a character-driven film, says the producer. “One of the things I like about this movie and these characters is that no one is stereotypical,” says Ryder. “You don’t have the stereotypical mother-daughter relationship. Elissa is actually a bit more responsible than Sarah. Ryan is dark and mysterious, but also very vulnerable and really attractive. You can see why a young girl would be attracted to him.”
The film is based on an original short story by veteran writer, director and producer Jonathan Mostow, and underwent an extensive development process by Mostow and his producing partner, Hal Lieberman. “It’s uncommon to find material like this already really well-developed by expert filmmakers,” Ryder says. “Because of that, a lot of very experienced directors were interested in this project.”
With a deep pool of talent to draw from, Ryder and his fellow producers eventually selected Mark Tonderai, who had just created a stir in the independent film world with his debut feature, Hush, a tense and tightly plotted British thriller. “We were really excited to meet Mark because of Hush,” says Ryder. “With a relatively small budget and a limited amount of time, he created a really terrifying film. Hush reminded me of Jonathan Mostow’s Breakdown. It’s a really well-made, well-crafted film and Mark got the job because of that.”
In his sophomore outing, Tonderai stays one step ahead of his audience, keeping them off balance by creating plausible doubt and mounting suspicions. “This is a film that’s all about what lies beneath,” he says. “It’s about dualities. Everyone has that within them and I think that’s why the film works. Parenthood versus coming of age. Grief and redemption. First love and second chances. These are all the things that we talk about in this film. It is what gives the film a soul and keeps it from being just another horror-thriller. We wanted to elevate the genre and we worked really hard to do it.”
It was his desire to make a psychological thriller that achieved more than just scares that Tonderai says fueled his passion throughout the two years it took to make the film. “As a director it’s important to find something that strikes a chord with you, so I don’t look at story as much as I look at what the story is trying to say.”
That included exploring the relationships between Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence), her mother (Elizabeth Shue), and the enigmatic boy next door (Max Thieriot). “I had just had a child and I felt strongly that I wanted to deal with the issue of parenthood,” says the director. “I never forgot that this film is a thriller, but it is also about parents and how they can help us become who we are. And it’s a love story. A girl moves into a new home. She ends up falling for the neighbor boy who’s been through this horrific event. Everyone in the community is against them. It’s a very romantic notion.”
Before shooting commenced, Tonderai developed what he calls the “bible” for this film, an almost 100-page document that outlines his ideas on character, tone, lighting, themes and more. He distributed the meticulously detailed and lavishly illustrated tome to cast and crew to ensure they were all on the same page during the brief shoot. “It’s crucial when you start a film that you’re all making the same movie in terms of theme, concept and character,” says the director, who created a similar guide for his first film. “Every scene is important. And every scene’s a challenge. We were on a tight schedule and I had to make sure to seize my days.”
Ryder was initially skeptical, but came to understand how essential the bible is to Tonderai’s filmmaking process, and to creating the hair-trigger tension at the heart of the story. “He put a lot into it, a lot of ideas and themes from the movie, as well as how it was going to shoot it, how to light it and the texture of it. A lot of directors don’t think that far ahead.”
While acknowledging the collaborative nature of moviemaking, Tonderai made sure that everyone from actors to department heads to producers to crewmembers had an opportunity to share his vision. “Everyone comes to the material with their own point of view, which is a positive,” he says. “But if the crew doesn’t know what’s in my head or the costume department isn’t aware of what the lighting is going to be, or the gaffer doesn’t know what sort of visual richness I want, then I’m at a disadvantage. With this as a guide, choices were not made based on opinions. They were made based on character and theme and story. There was a reason for everything.”
The extra preparation also helped the shoot go more smoothly. “Every time there was a question, I would say, ‘go to the bible; you will find it all in there.’ It was our guide, our arbitrator, our armor. It informed everybody about the film I wanted to make. I didn’t have to speak. I just showed them my images.”
Line producer Robert Menzies had never seen a director share so much of his advance preparation with the crew. “The bible served the production incredibly well. It was a very intense read. It was very focused and touched on just about every single aspect, allowing the crew to really get inside the head of our director. They understood from that document what his vision was for wardrobe, for art department, for camera—the look of the whole piece. And I think it set the tone for the whole production, so it was a phenomenal piece of work.”