The Last House on the Left (2009) Review
Written by: Vamp_Slayer
Seeing people leave the theatre before a movie ends can usually be a terrible thing. Why do I say usually? Perhaps because some people leave if the movie is just plain bad, while others just can’t bear to watch the brutality before them, which can be considered good, if that's what the film is going for. Such is the case for this particular remake of the shocking Wes Craven film of the same name. While Craven’s first film had many flaws and an extremely low budget, it had a great idea and this great idea was put to excellent use for this remake.
I’m thinking that not everyone at the showing knew what the movie was about. As a result we lost a few fellow movie goers during the one scene that I’m sure people can easily guess. The film is basically, two girls (Mari and Paige) follow a young boy to his motel room in hopes of scoring some drugs; unfortunately he is part of a gang of murderous prison escapees, the son of one of them. The girls now having found out who they are cannot be let go and they are taken to the forest where they are subject to horrific treatment. The four villains then proceed to, unknowingly, take refuge in the house of one of the girls, whose cottage is nearby. Once the parents find out what these people have done, revenge these four strangers “will curse the day they came to the last house on the left.”
This film is great. It is excellently filmed, with the right amount of tension and a perfect pace, especially since the film is close to two hours and is practically two stories, breaking the film into halves. Essentially, the first half follows the two girls, while the second half follows the parents. Let it be said that the acting in this film is far superior to the acting in the original film, but let us not compare too much. The acting is very effective and helps make the film even more shocking. Shocking? Yes. Shocking. Even if you have the seen the first film, this film still packs a mean punch and not a fun one. By no means can one call this film fun. It is depressing, dark, disturbing, desperate and degrading. And this is what makes it a great horror/thriller film. Though it is hard to sit through due do it’s very bleak atmosphere, at the same time, this is what makes the film work and what makes it intriguing.
The film is mean spirited, pretty well the entire way through; if you are looking for feel good moments continue to do so, as you will not find any here. There are a few much needed lines that lessen the tension, but as a whole the film is very intense. This film has to be one of the most disturbing and distressing films I’ve seen. It’s more effective in its tactics than the original by far. And one has to appreciate the number of references made to the original, despite it being a very different film other than the basic storyline. One shot in particular that I thought was very effective, as it was in the original, occurs after the horrific events in the woods, when Mari is getting up and the 3 villains rise to their feet as well and a soft tune is playing, a sad and uncomfortable sort of shot. There is silence from the characters. It really captures an uneasy atmosphere.
The violence in the film is definitely high. And it is realistic, which in turn makes it all the more disturbing. The violence isn’t always explicit, but even then it is still utterly unsettling and brutal. This film is brutal. There is definitely more gore than the original, but you won’t find the chest carving scene in this one. And you know what, that is very alright, it honestly would have been too much. The acts of violence in this film are, and I cannot stress enough, completely unsettling. Getting down to the most disturbing scene of the film, I have to say I didn’t think it would be as a brutal as it was. The rape scene is absolutely appalling, and even more so than the original. It felt very long and this is the peak of hatred in the film, right when you think you decided you hate the villains, you hate them even more. It is very hard to watch this entire scene play out. Sara Paxton, who plays Mari, does an amazing job in the film and especially during this scene it is very painful. All of the actors do a great job; there isn’t one performance that didn’t sell itself. The music in the film is also a huge, huge improvement. The music fits greatly. And the absence of it in other scenes really tenses the atmosphere. The suspense is very well done; the film is full of tension. When a thriller/horror film makes you feel a strain in your chest from tension, you know it is doing its job.
This new remake is a fine one. One of the best remakes for sure and definitely superior to the original films in almost every aspect. A dreadful atmosphere complied with brutal violence and suspense to boot really makes this film very effective. The gore is realistic and disturbing and the situations are completely unsettling. Watching the parents do what they do after we’ve seen what these people have done to their daughter and her friend makes one almost want to cheer. There is no doubt that one would side with the parents, but perhaps even feel a small sense of pity for the villains. Great acting all around by the cast and effective musical score keeps the tension elevated. This film is definitely not for the weak of heart. It really is well made, with a great story, but it isn’t for everyone. On that note, I recommend it to all horror fans. This is no watered down Pg-13 film, it’s brutal and bleak and even shocking. See for yourself, it’s The Last House on the Left. 8.5/10 from me.