LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT
Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
Krug and his gang of baddies are in for some trouble. After the rape and murder of a couple of teenage girls, unbeknownst to them, they find shelter in the parents of one of the victims. Things go from bad to worse for them when the parents find their daughter near death, and enough evidence to know exactly who committed the atrocities.
Is it good movie?
Director Dennis Iliadis certainly seems to want us to have a slightly sexualized relation with his Mari Collingwood (Sara Paxton) early on in the 2009 version of Last House on the Left. The first few times we see her, she is wearing some revealing clothing, or showering after a swim. But there is an innocence to it that feels more like a sexual awakening rather than something sleazy. In fact, early on, this horror remake feels similar to the coming of age drama, Smooth Talk starring Laura Dern. But there is a far darker foe here then Treat Williams. This is not just a man who sees Mari as a sexual object, this is a dangerous and sadly, realistic look at the dangers of what could happen and what does happen in this world. While Wes Craven’s original tale was a disturbing and ultra low budget cult classic about the depravity someone would sink to for vengeance, this latest film is less about the depraved and more about the wronged making a right.
Both films are at times terrifying, especially for anyone who has ever suffered a loss this brutal. While the original was a raw, cheap and almost vulgar display of horror, Iliadis vision is an extremely well photographed and well acted picture that might not have the bitter edge the original did, but it certainly is just as vicious. Yet this time around, the parents seem to be more justified, as opposed to the original which is strictly vengeance for this awful group of killers. While most people would sympathize either way, it might be more understandable here. And unlike the original, the parents this time around are two very strong actors who deliver believable performances. Both Monica Potter and Tony Goldwyn are convincing as a couple struggling with their own marriage after the death of their son Ben, and faced with the possible loss of their surviving daughter.
Also quite powerful this time around is Krug, played by Garret Dillahunt who has a quiet menace about him. But once things get tough, he is one hell of a bad guy. He has this hidden ferociousness that feels very human. Especially with his relationship to his own son Justin (Spencer Treat Clark). It is very strained, as his idea of parenting consists of bullying the young man. After all, the nightmare begins thanks to Justin’s hormones, when he brings the lovely Mari and her friend Paige (Martha MacIsaac) over to their motel room for some fun. So really, can you blame a dad with a son that is picking up girls while daddy dearest is being rescued from the police? Yes, with that, this remake remains mostly true to the original, that is until the inevitable moment when the bad guys find themselves looking for shelter with one of the victims parents. Things certainly do change after that.
You’ll notice on the cover art for the DVD that this version contains the “Unrated” cut. Most of the time you see that and it means very little. But this time however, you really get some disturbing footage not seen in your local matinee. Much of it consists of more gore with knives poking and all sorts of nastiness going on. But the big difference is the rape scene. In the theatrical version, it pulls away a few times, almost as if to say, ‘don’t worry, it’ll be over soon’. But here, the scene is longer and decidedly more disturbing. While it doesn’t manage to have the sickening quality of forcing the girls to take a piss in the river (from the original), it is absolutely hard to watch. It is unflinching and frighteningly uncomfotable. Yes, you know it is “only a movie” but it sure is an intense moment. As the camera stays very close to Mari and Krug and very seldom pulls away. It may even be enough for people to stick with the theatrical version instead.
As good as the film turned out to be, I do have one grating problem. And if you’ve seen it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Why the microwave scene? Sure, I know it is not working properly and so it probably could work while being open, but did we really need it? It took the film to anther level which felt cheap and not nearly as well crafted as what came before. But with that, I still feel that this is one of the better horror remakes to come out, and maybe that was helped by the involvement of Wes Craven. Thankfully, they took the time to tell the story and not settle on a splatter fest… at least they did until the end.
Video / Audio
Video: This 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen transfer is very good. It serves the beauty and terror of the film well.
Audio: Also very good is the Dolby Digital 5.1. All in all, a good looking and sounding DVD.
With the special features, I guess Universal didn’t feel the need to add in a bunch of good stuff. All you get is a handful of Deleted Scenes (8:58) which might’ve been an interesting touch to put them in the “unrated” version. Some good stuff here, and if you are going to do a longer cut, this wouldn’t made it even more worth it.
Lastly, you’ll find the biggest waste of an extra with A Look Inside (2:41). This is just a glorified trailer with sound clips from the Dennis and Mr. Craven. Seriously… this is all they had to offer? Oh, I guess we should be happy that we get both the theatrical cut and the unrated cut. The former runs about 4 minutes longer than what you saw in the theatre so I guess that’s cool.
Finishing up this lame excuse for extras are trailers for “Drag Me To Hell”, “Fighter”, “Sin Nombre” and an anti-smoking ad.
I’ll say it… The Last House on the Left (2009) is a better film than Wes Craven’s original shocker. It is stylishly shot and the performances are top-notch. It may lack the raw, gritty and disturbing nature of the first, but it still packs one helluva genre punch. I have mixed feelings about which version I prefer. The rape scene in the unrated version is difficult to watch and it is sure to make a whole lot of viewers squeamish. While it is still pretty brutal in the theatrical, it is not quite as nasty. The one scene they should’ve taken out though is the ridiculous and over-the-top microwave scene. It didn’t need it.