Project DeadPost

The Last House on the Left [2009]

If bad people hurt someone you love, how far would you go to hurt them back?

Directed by Dennis Iliadis

Reviewed by Deep Red

Mari (Sara Paxton) and her parents, Emma (Monica Potter) and John (Tony Goldwyn), are vacationing at their lake house. Mari and her friend Paige (Martha MacIsaac) run into trouble when they meet Justin (Spencer Treat Clark) at a local store where Paige works and end up back at his motel. It’s there that they meet Justin’s father Krug (Garret Dillahunt), Krug’s girlfriend Sadie (Riki Lindhome) and Justin’s uncle Francis (Aaron Paul). The gang kidnap the girls, taking their vehicle but Mari’s attempt to escape causes the vehicle to crash. What follows for the girls is a harrowing ordeal that some people may find hard to watch.

OK, I am a huge fan of The Last House on the Left [1972] directed by Wes Craven, it’s right up there with my favourite films of all time, always will be. But, like I Spit on Your Grave [2010] this is a fine remake of a classic film. Yes, I prefer the original in both cases, The Last House on the Left [1972] and I Spit on Your Grave [1978] were two of the most controversial films of their time, both infamous ‘video nasties’ too, and remain so to an extent, I don’t think either is any less disturbing by today’s standards.

While the originals belong to the 70s, the remakes belong to now. The Last House on the Left [2009] is a very different film to the original although the general structure of the story is recognisably the same. The actors stepping into those famous roles from the 70s are very, very good, maybe a little generic (an ongoing problem with modern films, a lack of real characters) and each makes the role their own as best they can; the new gang aren’t as memorable as David Hess and company, I don’t think so anyway, those guys are in a different league entirely.

The ordeal in the woods scene is harrowing stuff by today’s standards but it wasn’t nearly as dark as in Craven’s masterpiece in my opinion; I think that’s mainly because of how the scene is structured overall rather than the violence which is pretty much as visually appalling in the remake as in the original, in places more so (a particularly nasty stabbing in the unrated version), although there’s no hint of disembowelment here (a scene mostly lost from the original anyway). There’s just something really cold about this scene in the original and the soundtrack, not in the remake, plays a big part in the scene; the music always reminds me a little of that lovely tune in Cannibal Holocaust that just seems so callous juxtaposed with the atrocities you’re witnessing on-screen.

The latter scenes, the lake house scenes, are more consistent in the remake though, certainly more gory too; as much as I love the original the latter scenes at Mari’s house are a marked step down following the woods scene. So, the remake certainly has consistency, the lack of the original’s zany humour being another case in point, but that doesn’t make it the better film. The structure of the original film is wonderfully chaotic and the remake tends to be a little generic, it looks like you’d expect it to look, it’s a great example of modern horror but it looks and plays with too much familiarity to stand out.

Like I said, the two films are very different, which one you prefer is down to individual taste I’d say which is definitely better than hating the remake because it just doesn’t deserve the name (The Fog [2005]) or feeling it was a little pointless (Carrie [2013]) which is often the case. I think this remake was done right and as a result I get to enjoy both films and can understand why some people might prefer this. However, considering films like Inside [2007] which essentially are the new ‘shockers’ of recent years; is it wrong to expect more? No, basically, there’s too much familiarity in modern horror and ‘more’ is possible, we all know that. So, maybe when a film bears the title of a real classic horror fans are well within their rights as consumers to expect more. If I don’t pay too much, I don’t care a whole lot but I would prefer more originality, more risks and just generally less pandering to a generation that really doesn’t deserve the amount of pandering their ticket price dictates. Horror films are meant to take you out of everyday mundanity not seek to fit comfortably into it.

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