As the intrepid heroine of Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone (2010), Jennifer Lawrence evoked genuine pathos without betraying a single emotion, not unlike Dana Andrews in his best work for Otto Preminger or Jacques Tourneur. The steely reserve and nuanced presence she exhibited belied her youth and inexperience as an actor. Since then, she’s taken roles that don’t utilize these strengths, as in this dull thriller about a mother and daughter (Elisabeth Shue and Lawrence) who move next door to a mysterious college student (Max Theriot), whose parents were murdered by his psychotic younger sister a few years prior. The material is contrived—director Mark Tonderai crudely apes Psycho at nearly every turn—and the dialogue is hopeless, rendering Lawrence completely ineffectual.
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