As I drove to the movie theater, I had to wonder who made the decision that put Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone, The Hunger Games) into this film. From the ad campaign it looked like this was a horror movie; why would Jennifer put herself into this type of film? All I could think was Jennifer would look back at this film as a speed bump in her career. Playing teenaged Elissa, she and her divorced mother Sarah, played by Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas, Hollow Man), moved to a small town to get a fresh start. Upon arriving at their new home, the two discovered a tragic event had taken place at the house next door, several years ago. The parents were murdered by their daughter, who then fled the scene, never to be found again. The only survivor was her brother Ryan, played by Max Thieriot (Jumper, The Pacifier); who years later returned to the house, only to be shunned by the townsfolk. Elissa ignored the warnings and tried to befriend the quiet neighbor. But, would Elissa be safe being alone with Ryan in that house of tragedy? While watching Jennifer in this role, I was relieved to see she still had not lost her command of the screen. This woman has a great screen presence. Elisabeth as the mother was the perfect antagonist to her daughter; their scenes together sparked across the screen. Unfortunately they could not save this cliched thriller that left me emotionally detached. I did not find the movie scary, though I liked a couple of the twists in the story. With a PG-13 rating, this was not a slasher type of movie; think of it more like Psycho light. I cannot remember seeing any blood in the movie, but I may have missed it when I was checking the time on my watch. Was this a bad choice for Jennifer? I do not think it will hurt her in the long run; but let us say, it was a lateral move in what I feel will be a long movie career for her.
2 1/3 stars