Although filming had been completed in 2010, the film was not released until 2012 by Relativity Media. Despite a negative response from critics, Jennifer Lawrence's performance was praised and the film was a commercial success, ranking number one at the box office in its opening weekend.
A newly divorced medical doctor Sarah Cassidy (Elisabeth Shue), and her 17-year-old daughter Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) move to a small, upscale town. They are disturbed to discover the house they are moving into is on the same street as a house in which a family used to live before they were massacred. The story of the massacre is told to them by the neighbors. Four years prior, a girl named Carrie-Ann Jacobson killed her parents, then fled into the forest and was never seen again, leaving her brother Ryan (Max Thieriot) as the sole survivor. Ryan now lives alone and is hated by his neighbors; Bill Weaver (Gil Bellows), a local police officer, appears to be Ryan's only supporter.
The mother-daughter relationship becomes rocky and Elissa starts seeing Ryan against her mother's wishes, finding Ryan to be lonely but a sweet boy. Ryan confides in her that he accidentally injured Carrie-Ann by allowing her to fall from a swing when they were little; he was supposed to be watching her while their parents were getting high on drugs. The resulting brain damage from the accident made her extremely aggressive, leading to their parents' murder. Ryan is revealed to have been secretly taking care of a seemingly now-grown Carrie-Ann (Eva Link) in a hidden room. Carrie-Ann manages to escape and approaches a young couple in a car while brandishing a kitchen knife. Ryan catches up to her before she can reach the couple but accidentally kills her while trying to hide her. In grief, he goes to a diner, where he meets a kind waitress named Peggy (Jordan Hayes).
Later, some unruly high school boys pick a fight with Ryan and he flees, and Elissa drives to his house and subdues a fire the boys started. She finds tampons in the kitchen garbage and explores the house with suspicion until she finds the secret room and is attacked by Carrie-Ann, who is revealed to actually be Peggy. Ryan restrains "Carrie-Ann" while frantically screaming at Elissa to leave. Elissa finds blue contact lenses and Peggy Jones's wallet in the kitchen. Ryan has kidnapped the waitress and attempted to make her look like Carrie-Ann. Elissa tells Ryan she has to go home but Ryan hits her, knocking her unconscious.
Elissa wakes to find herself tightly tied to a chair. Ryan reveals that Carrie-Ann actually died during the swing accident. He says his parents blamed him for it, and implies that he was the one who killed them. He explains that he wants Elissa, but that he needs Carrie-Ann and cannot have both. Officer Weaver goes to Ryan's house to look for Elissa, but Ryan stabs him to death. Elissa frees herself and tries to escape in Ryan's car, but Ryan knocks her out with Chloroform and traps her in his car trunk with Peggy's body. Sarah arrives and is also stabbed by Ryan. Elissa struggles out of the car and ultimately shoots Ryan with Weaver's gun. When she approaches him, he suddenly wakes up and grabs her wrist. When Ryan attempts to stab Elissa with the knife, Sarah strikes him in the head with the hammer.
Elissa and Sarah move out; Ryan is placed in a psychiatric ward. A flashback shows young Ryan in girl's clothing about to blow out birthday candles. His mother calls him "Carrie-Ann" and when Ryan protests that his name is Ryan, not Carrie-Ann, she slaps him violently; it's implied Ryan was the only child who killed the parents.Jennifer Lawrence as Elissa Cassidy
Max Thieriot as Ryan Jacobson
Bobby Osborne as Young Ryan
Elisabeth Shue as Sarah Cassidy
Gil Bellows as Officer Bill Weaver
Eva Link as Carrie Anne
Nolan Gerard Funk as Tyler Reynolds
Allie MacDonald as Jillian
Jordan Hayes as Peggy Jones
Krista Bridges as Mary Jacobson
John Healy as John Jacobson
Grace Tucker-Duguay as Carrie-Ann Jacobson
The film was originally announced in 2003 with Jonathan Mostow directing and Richard Kelly screenwriting, but the film was put through development hell for 9 years until production was revived in 2010 with Mark Tonderai directing and Jonathan Mostow screenwriting, instead.
Principal photography and filming mostly took place in Metcalfe, Ontario and Carp, Ontario from August 2, 2010, until September 3, 2010.
The film was originally scheduled to be released in February 2012, but was moved to a September 2012 release. The film had its theatrical premiere in the USA on September 21, 2012, and was released in Canada on the same date. The film was not released theatrically in Sweden or Spain and was released direct-to-video on January 30, 2013, in Sweden and on August 28, 2013 in Spain.
A tie-in novelization of the movie was released on August 12, 2012, to accompany the movie by Little, Brown and Company.
The film debuted at number one at the US box office on its opening Friday and Saturday nights. In what was one of the tightest races in years for first place at the box-office weekend, the film finished the weekend at number two with $12.3 million, just less than a million behind End of Watch, which included takings from Thursday night through Monday morning, where that movie finished at number one, with $13.1 million. The film went on to gross over $44 million worldwide, from a budget of $6.9 million.
The film received a CinemaScore of B, indicating it was received well by its target audience. The film was generally received negatively by critics, but with highlight for the performance from Lawrence and it holds a 12% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 60 reviews from critics with the critical consensus stating: "Poorly conceived, clumsily executed and almost completely bereft of scares, House at the End of the Street strands its talented star in a film as bland as its title." Critics have still praised Jennifer Lawrence for her performance, saying that she "does her best with a dull and derivative script in this by-the-numbers suburban shocker." Some of the other positive reviews have also praised the film for its plot twists and for being somewhat unpredictable.
House at the End of the Street was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on January 8, 2013.
The unrated cut was also released on January 8, 2013. The extended edition increased the length of certain scenes in the final cut by a few seconds and the amount of violence, blood, and gore was increased by a small amount. The extended cut also included an additional twist in which Bill Weaver was actually a family friend of the Jacobsons and was aware of Carrie-Anne's fate, and he also knew about Ryan's abuse, but did nothing to help him. On the day of Carrie-Anne's accident, he supplied John and Mary Jacobson with drugs and actually could have prevented Carrie-Anne's death if he had not sold them the drugs, as the drugs prevented John and Mary from heeding the cries of Ryan, and he was then disowned as a friend by John Jacobson.