The Last House on the Left Review
Written by: moviemaven
Okay so I'm gonna go ahead and admit that I liked this movie. Let's get that part out of the way right now. I was unsure about how the treatment would turn out. I was skeptical because I always am when it comes to remakes. But I liked it. So there. Maven liked a remake. And as a reward I am not even going to do a major comparison with the original film. Of course I will mention it but I said it won't be major. This one is good enough to rest on its own. So we will start there for now.
At the beginning of the film we are introduced to Kruge, Sadie and his brother Francis as the latter two break him out of a prison transfer with brutal force. Because of this we are now aware that these characters are remorseless killers.
Then we meet the Collingswoods. Mari (Sara Paxton) and her family have gone to their Summer house. It is the first day there. She decides she wants to meet her townie friend Paige (Superbad's Martha MacIsaac). Mari takes the car and goes to town leaving the parents to a dinner alone together. Paige works in a store so when a young man (Krug's son, Justin) comes in to attempt to buy cigarettes, she is talked into selling him a pack in exchange for the promise of weed. They follow him to his motel room and proceed to have a good time until his miscreant father and band of murdering followers come home earlier than expected. The girls are kidnapped as the gang plans to take their vehicle for escape and from this point on, we are pitted against uncomfortable situations and graphic scenes of violence and rape that may leave you squirming in your seat, though the matter is treated with respect and never comes off as gratuitous. The people next to me kept making all these hitchy little moving around noises, telling me that they were about to crawl out of their skin at times. The group leaves Mari for dead and unknowingly end up at the house of their victim. That sucks for them in a big way.
And here comes the meat of the story. When John Collingwood (Tony Goldwyn) and his wife Emma (Monica Potter) discover who they are, their attentions turn from caring for their daughter to all-out revenge.
Now for the discussion. One of the things I was concerned about going into this movie was that with the current rage of torture films pouring out of Hollywood, it would follow suit and become nothing more than an excuse to kill people in excessively violent ways. I was pleased to find that this was not the outcome.
When the parents begin to exact their revenge, it is with dedication and vicious anger without seeming unrealistic or uncalled for. They are a troubled couple going in, resulting from the untimely death of their son, Ben. I guess the family who kicks murdering ass together, stays together. I am almost embarrassed to admit that at one point I cried. That's right, I cried. I didn't bawl. I wasn't sad. But when the two parents come together to the conclusion of what has transpired, the emotion from the couple is so strong that I found tears running down my cheeks. This was simply emotion, overwhelming and needing escape.
They are trapped in the middle of nowhere in a storm with no car. It's not just about revenge but also about survival. If Krug's gang discovers they know, they will surely end up dead as well.
I have only one complaint and that is in the final scene of the film. I have this habit of thinking ahead to consequences in the aftermath of situations. Up to the point I am referring to, nothing they do would be questioned by any court in the country. But I fear that the final act may prove a little difficult to explain...even if logic says it was deserved. This bit cheapens the film a tiny bit but not enough to overshadow the rest of it.
As for the technical aspects of this movie (here comes the comparison I promised) it is beautifully shot, hauntingly scored and brilliantly acted. The original is not as clean and pretty which gives it a raw feel. It is visibly crude which in turn gives it the sense of horror that Craven is so famous for sporting with this film. While the redo is born of a bigger budget and bigger names, it does not suffer as so many recent films have.
I cannot complain about any of the performances within. Goldwyn, who I frequently refer to as "the bad guy from Ghost" because until now I never had cause to force myself to remember his name, has now finally given me an unforgettable performance. His vengeful father is sympathetic and convincing. At one point, you clearly see his anger come from deep within and take the helm. Later he is faced with what he has done and in one minute moment, projects that he was unaware of his newfound brutality. He is a doctor used to saving lives, not taking them. His humanity is handed to us in the blink of an eye. A subtle expression of surprise crosses his face and sells me. (™ TW)
Monica Potter equally astounds me as the gentle creature who until now has likely never had reason to fight for her life. She is cunning and swift and battles like a mother saving her child really would.
Garrett Dillahunt as Krug is a monster, plain and simple. He has no redeeming qualities. He is hatred, he is murder, he is taunting evil. You truly despise him and want him to suffer for his transgressions. The others of the group are notable as well if not stand-out characters. There is nothing new coming from them but the actors do well with what they have.
Lastly I give a nod to Paxton. Her character suffers trauma beyond belief over a period of time. She is frightened, she is hurt and she is suffering. And we benefit from her superb ability to lay it all down.
Few films are perfect. This is not one of them. But it doesn't hit too far off the mark. There a few moments of "yeah, okay" or "what??!" but the suspense and pacing of the film keep you from dwelling on those things too much. In the end, it just doesn't matter. Director Dennis Iliadis delivers a film that is powerful and engaging. Well done.