LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT 200907 Mar 2020
USA Today cited the remake for Last House on the Left as chiamato due to being “completely predictable” and that the “carnage is rendered slowly and quasi-reverentially, making the whole brutal experience come off like torture porn.”
I could not disagree more.
For starters, if anyone was expecting a remake of the first Last House on the Left, you didn’t get it. The only constant from the 1972 version to the 2009 version, is the players and the plot. The means that take you from A to Z are completely different now from what they were then.
Secondly, I don’t understand how this remake constitutes a comparison to “torture porn.” Where I could certainly see that in the first version of Last House on the Left, especially since it was released during the height of the sexploitation era, this remake had only one rape scene and it was visually tame in comparison to the multiple rape scenes from the first. Granted there were the required boob shots, however “sex” was virtually non-existent.
Rolling Stone called it a “crapathon” but offered no support for their opinion, and quite frankly, their 100 word review of the movie was the epitome of a “crapathon” in my book.
Not many other critics cared for the remake either; even Ebert (who I think is a waste of air) was on the fence as to whether or not he thought this remake was worthwhile.
I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed it, and I am here to tell you why.
THE MOVIE REVIEW THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT 2009 If you read my review of the original version, then you would know how controversial this movie is intended to be. Focusing on a parent’s worst nightmare and a young girls worst fears, it is a movie about the violent shattering of a young girls innocence, and the extent of retribution her parent’s find themselves able to exact on her behalf.
lhotl-rape-scenesI must confess that the explicit and prolonged rape scene of the 1972 version was so disturbing that I questioned whether or not I would be able to sit though the same scene of the 2009 version. I am relieved to say that the remake saw fit to tame down the graphic and multiple rape scenes of the first to just one. But that one scene was so well written and directed that it managed to convey every emotion of horror, disgust, and sadness as was felt in the original. Some reviewers feel this alone is reason enough to consider this an awful movie not worth the time or money. But if these same emotions were not invoked or if they were inadequately delivered, this movie would not have even come close to being as effective as the first.
The key players and the premise of how things come to be are the same as the original: Mary (Sarah Paxton,) a niave innocent teen, gets swayed into being in the wrong place at the wrong time, winds up being violated, along with her friend Paige (Martha MacIsaac,) at the hands of a sadistic killer, Krug (Garret Dillahunt) and his misfit companions - his derelict brother Francis (Aaron Paul,) his twisted girlfriend/wife/slut/whatever Sadie (Riki Lindhome,) and his gutless teenage son Justin (Spencer Treat Clark.)
From the get-go, this movie plays out differently from the first. For starters, you know right away who the bad guys are. And though the chain of events that positions Mary and Paige in the hands of those bad guys is rather predictable, I found myself every bit as captivated in their fear as I did in the original. Moreso actually, as Sarah Paxton was much more believable in the role of Mary than was Sandra Peabody.
Secondly, there is only one rape scene and it is no where near as graphic or perverse as the first. Please don’t misunderstand my choice of words. Any rape is perverse; however in the first installment Sadie was physically involved as was Francis. In this installment that “group effort” if you will is not evident. The result? Well - the same emotions without the the same intensely graphic visuals.
Then there is Spencer Treat Clark, one of the main reasons I enjoyed this movie as much as I did. His delivery of Justin’s character as being the torn and tortured offspring of a psychopathic killer trapped in a life he has no idea (or guts) of how to escape is incredibly believable. I liked that this version showed his character with more -albeit very little - spine than in the first installment as he actually ends up helping the cause rather than adding to the carnage.
The story is everything you would expect from a horror film, and covers all the required elements you would want. Gratuitous boob shots; killer weed; rain storms and predictable power outages…. everything needed to set the stage for a night of terror.
One thing that definitely makes this movie a NON B film is the acting. Solid, believable characters (how’s that for a switch?) especially from Mari’s parents, played by Monica Potter and Tony Goldwyn. Although I feel I should point out that Monica’s role as the mother was way more badass than that of the father. I seem to recall that being the case in the original as well - most notably when the mother bit the bad guys weiner off. While the writers and directors of this version did not see fit to recreate that scene, they had a few originals that offered almost as much bite. In both versions the father seems to be the weaker of the two, but he definitely makes sure he runs a close second for kicking butt.
THE BOTTOMLINE What I liked about this movie is that the fear I felt wasn’t created by blood and guts and gore. Which is saying something since I generally love blood and guts (not so much the gore.) Instead it was fear based on something that could actually happen, and satisfaction in the deliverance of revenge resulting from that fear.
The bottomline? Definitely worth the watch. And be sure to stick around for the rolling of the credits. Although rather unrealistic, you get to see a little revenge scene done in a manner that is really sweet. For the twisted, anyway.
GOTTA HAVE IT!