The Last House on the Left (2009) Review
Written by: BlackTequilaKiss
Forgive me, this review will be long. It will contain emotion and it will speak of this movie has fair as it can. But first I want to say one thing, I am proud to be wrong. I don't condone remakes because more often than not the finished article is not that remarkable. This movie has taken my preconception of remakes away. This was by and far the most singular and emotionally experience I have taken in, in a movie. The Last House on the Left is the movie of 2009, there is no bones about it.
It is not Hollywood glossed, it is not pretty, it is however disturbing, brutal and not easy on the eyes but the fact is redemption is offered at the end and it makes this experience one of the most trying I have had lately in horror.
I went into this none the wiser, afraid I had made a mistake and finished the film realising I have had an experience I won't meet again for a long time. I love the original no doubt, but I will admit here and now that the remake is far superior in so many ways.
Plot: A family of three head to their vacation home. Their daughter drives into town to meet a friend who befriends a quiet lad. Going off to his to score some drugs, things turn wrong when his family turn up and the truth emerges. Kidnapped, they are driven away and end up in a forest. After being brutally assaulted, they are left for dead as the gang come upon a house to stay during a raging storm. However events turn sinister when it emerges that they are the parents of one of the girls. Now revenge is all that's on their minds.
This is a dark tale. What made this stand out from the other is the quick way in which it establishes the story and melds together. It quickly gets to the point without losing focus and keeps our attention.
The cast, what can I say. Monica Potter and Tony Goldwyn as the parents start off kind, loving but a little distant from their daughter. But when things come to crunch, suddenly we see two parents dedicated to protecting their child and exacting revenge against those. They did fantastic jobs in their roles and pushed the boundaries of what I thought was not even possibly. They were compassionate about their roles and did a great job of not only acting the part but displaying emotions that are hard to convey across the screen.
Then there was the, I dread to use this word, bad guys. Krug played by Garret Dillahunt, Michael Bowen as Morten, Riki Lindhome as Sadie and Joshua Cox as Giles. They were vile there is no two ways about it. The way they brutalise the girls and torture them, psychically left me shaking. That one scene everyone talks of, the most brutal is truly heartbreaking. There were moments when truthfully I had to look away, it is not nice on the senses and was too graphic for my liking, but I can understand why it was an integral part to the film.
Garret Dillahunt is the nastiest of all. He shows no emotions throughout the entire affair and it left me shaking how he can be so cruel in the face of humanity. He played such cruelty well and despite how evil he was, it made it easier to despise and hope his comeuppance was long and painful but honestly a fantastic actor by all merits.
Every actor/ actress did a tremendous job. Martha MacIsaac, who is known more for her comedy roles, actually managed to play a distressed, distraught individual very well. From her first to last scene you believe in the entire conviction of her character. Then there was Sara Paxton as Mari Collingwood, this is a remarkable actress. Able to teem between strong and weak she gave 100%, in the face of adversity she still refuses to give up and she made her character one of the best in the film. I loved her and longed for things to work her way, beautiful.
Soundtrack. This truly shocked me. There were moments when the music was soft and lingering but in some of the more pivotal scenes it was not there. Scenes where you emotions took such hold that music did not need to be a factor. But when the music was there, it was never shrill or over the top but engaging. It pulled you further into the movie and was a great contribute to the movie.
Cinematography and Special Effects: The special effects are to begin with. The gore surrounding the victims was nothing major but in the house pitted against the parents we get to see some fantastic special gory effects. A limb being literally pulled from one of the gang in a scene involving a sink. Gunshot wounds to the head, poles skewered through bodies, it all kept a sense of realism and I never felt I was watching cheesy effects it was a great attribute and a perfect gleam to the movie. Now the cinematography. Forests in bare limbo, branches against muddied grounds, the sparkle of a lake in the wake of the sun, it all sparkled wonderfully against each other.
The grainy atmosphere when the girls are in the worst of positions was brilliant but crucial from what I saw it made the time we spend watching them trying to escape more darker, edgier and painful to watch but equally hard to turn away from. Changing to the parent's vacation home, it all seems rather pristine. But when night turns and the rain pours, we see things are going to move in quick motion. To turn beautiful rooms into an art of blood work was quite shocking but just as fantastic. I seriously cannot complain.
I have rattled on but the last time I had a movie create this feeling in me was too long ago. The ending is a perfect one and much different from the original one but it was not a bad way to end it, in fact the different ending had more resolution to the film as an whole and I can say this was an improvement altogether.
This is an intense experience. I went through many stages. From fear, to shock, then to chills up the back, to joy as the parent's fought back, all the way to tears at the bittersweet ending. I cannot remember the last time I cried at a movie for the right reasons and this is one of the better if it can create such emotion from me.
I have heard it is a hard experience to sit through. It is, there is no way to butter it. It does not go easy on the viewers and is an intense film that pushes boundaries. But this movie just does everything the way the original should have been.
Passion drove this review. I knew after watching it I could not wait to write the review. I wanted the memories to be fresh, to still grab a hold of my heart. I wanted that sensation when the movie ended to still be there and you know what? It has been 15 minutes since the movie ended and that feeling still sits within me. You want a nice piece of easy movie watching, then do not watch this. If you can sit through some admittedly arduous scenes then watch this. It will shock you, make you gasp in horror but ultimately give you an ending that not only satisfies but takes the movie full circle.
I loved this film for everything it gave. I love Craven for having the balls to make an even better remake than the original and I loved the acting. This was an exercise in not just horror but the psychological effect. It will stay with you long after and break the corner of your soul. It will haunt you, touch you and be a buzz on the sense. This is amazing.
Watch it. It will stick with you and is worth the price to buy at the very least.
I am a cynic when it comes to remakes, I am thankful this has shown me that sometimes you can be wrong. Gorgeous and a piece of movie making you need to see to understand, to believe. Utter brutal but brilliant.