Here we pit two films about how rough the suburbs can be against each other. In one, uh oh - are our neighbors killers?! In the other - uh oh - is our neighbor a killer?!
The difference? One is supposed to be funny. The other is supposed to be very, very not funny and yet...
So if you're interested in having a laugh while thinking about how scary the suburbs can be, maybe go for the intentional comedy instead of the "this is so horrible I can't help but laugh at it" one? Detailed examination below!
See This: "The 'Burbs"
Although the film received mixed reviews at the time, the Joe Dante-directed comedy "The 'Burbs" has since reached a certain level of cult status, referred to by many critics as being "misunderstood" at the time. The comedy thriller, about cul-de-sac residents out to prove that the new folks on the block are cannibals with their very own cult, came smack between Dante's "Innerspace" and "Gremlins 2: The New Batch." Appropriately, it opened at #1, dominating over the weekend's other new release, "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure".
The film was written by Dana Olsen, and is possibly his best work - but there isn't a lot of competition, considering his other credits ("George of the Jungle", "Inspector Gadget"). The amusing farce also showed another side to rising star Tom Hanks, as his lead character of Ray Peterson carefully walked the line of losing it as he grew more and more suspicious of the new neighbors. Oh, and it co-stars Carrie Fisher, which should frankly be a reason to see anything. #princessleifaithful
Not That: "The House at the End of the Street"
"The House at the End of the Street," meanwhile, is a Horror McHorrorson, or at least an attempt at one. Although the story and many of the twists along the way are fairly interesting, the movie feels like it was shot, edited and directed by a horror obsessed pre-teen - and it's easily the worst in Jennifer Lawrence's current repertoire.
Here, the neighbor is Ryan, the only survivor of a brutal murder committed by his sister against his parents, who won't sell his scene-of-the-crime house, pissing everyone on the street off for bringing down property values. (Never mind the fact that the kid is probably really like, sad about his life, he's making our homes worth less money, so screw him!) Much to everyone's chagrin, Jennifer Lawrence's Elissa, new resident to the block, begins a relationship with Ryan. In a predictable plot twist, (ummm…spoiler alert), it turns out Ryan was the killer all those years ago, after his sister died and his parents mentally abused him by making him dress up like her. Creepy, sure, and there's definitely a fair amount of death along the way, but it ultimately doesn't add up to much.
It's hard for a film to be suspenseful when you can figure out the twist in the first minute and a half, and no matter how scary the story might read on paper, it all goes out the window when paired with shoddy editing, laughable sound effects, all-over-the-map performances and amateurish direction. Even worse - while you may find yourself laughing at how truly terrible this 11% RT rated film is, it never quite hits the so-bad-it's-good sweet spot, simply hanging out in the so-bad-it's-bad place, a.k.a. every movie-goer's worst nightmare.