The Last House on the Left (2009) Review
Written by: LoudLon
Theoretically, remakes are supposed to be improvements or reinterpretations of their filmic originals. But as we've seen numerous times in the past several years, far too many remakes are content with simply sticking with the same idea and going nowhere with it.
So is the case of The Last House on the Left, the remake of the infamous exploitation/shocker that launched the dubious careers of Wes Craven and the original's star, David Hess. But whereas Craven, at the very least, wanted to shock and mortify his viewers with scenes of intense carnage and tasteless rape, Last House '09's goals are much less threatening. It would rather just make do.
Craven's Last House was a riff on the classic Bergman film The Virgin Spring, a film this reviewer is a big fan of. The Virgin Spring carried a theme of tarnished innocence and religious retribution, bolstered by an exceptional performance by the legendary Max Von Sydow. The original Last House was a straight-on, gory shocker with a memorably sleazy villain as portrayed by David Hess. Last House '09, on the other hand, is a by-the-numbers repetition of Craven's original which not only cuts back on the grue, but also soft-pedals the key moment which made each of the first two films work -- that moment of realization on the parent's part that the people they've so kindly allowed into their home are responsible for a heinous act against their own child. True, the moment of realization is present in this film, but it lacks impact. It's just there.
Such is the movie in general. It has rape; it has murder; it has torture. But these moments are empty, forgettable and, relatively speaking, mostly tame.
The pluses: a very strong performance by Tony Goldwyn as the father (you may remember him as the guy who pulls a gun on Jason in Friday the 13th Part VI, or as the yuppie scum who had Patrick Swayze rubbed out in Ghost). Monica Potter, as the mother, is also solid (she was Cary Elwes's wife in Saw, in case you didn't know). There's also a pretty nifty (though completely ludicrous) gag involving a character's head in a microwave. That it seems like a gimmick tacked on for one last shock is, I suppose, beside the point.
Brass tacks: as a remake the film fails. It neither exceeds nor even matches the original's content, the villains are generic and the addition of a meek character in the gang serves no real purpose.
The pluses: it's well directed, the photography is pretty and Goldwyn and Potter make for a fearsome and convincing pair of parental avengers.
Too bad the rest of the movie couldn't meet their high standard.