Last House on the Left (2009)
Director: Dennis Iliadis
Starring: Garret Dillahunt, Monica Potter, Tony Goldwyn, Aaron Paul, Spencer Treat Clark, Riki Lindhome, Martha MacIsaac, Sara Paxton, Michael Bowen, Joshua Cox
(out of 4)
Let me preface this by admitting that I was never a huge fan of the original film, much as I enjoy many of Wes Craven’s later work. It was one of those films that I sat through because it was known as a “great classic” but I found the original very hard to watch and not just because of the graphic rape scene. Despite it being a 70s flick, I still found the soundtrack to be annoying beyond distraction and the villains always seemed almost cartoony to me. It was a cinema equivalent of choking down my veggies when I was a kid, yeah I know it is supposed to be “good” but I didn’t really enjoy it. So I was curious to see what the remake would bring to the table if a couple of my gripes with the original were addressed.
The Collingwood family has traveled to their lakeside retreat for a vacation after a recent tragedy. Daughter Mari (Sarah Paxton) takes the family car to meet up with her friend Paige (Martha MacIsaac) and the duo end up meeting Justin (Spencer Treat Clark), the son of a recently escaped convict and decide to go with him to smoke pot in his hotel room. The group is surprised when the father and his band of merry criminals comes back earlier then expected. From here the movie is very similar to the original, complete with the long and somewhat hard to watch rape scene (it just occurred to me that “long” and “hard” may be the wrong adjectives to describe this scene). Mari attempts to escape by swimming across the lake (as she is conveniently a champion swimmer) and during the pursuit, she is shot and left for dead.
A storm approaches and the band of miscreants find their way to Mari’s lake house, where her parents play host to the group, until they find their daughter clinging to life and discover that her attackers are the same individuals that they have shacked up in their guest house (yes, their vacation house has a guest house and yes, I am jealous). Her father is able to save her life (as he is also conveniently a doctor…trust me, convenient is a theme in this flick) and then he and the Mrs. proceed in a little good ole fashioned revenge.
Even with the unrated version, the gore was a lot less then I expected and the special effects makeup was surprisingly bad. I can honestly say that I have Halloween props that are more convincing. My guess is that they blew the budget in getting 3 of the 4 actresses in this film to strip down to their undies or run around sans top, because the budget was obviously not spent on the special effects. Traditionally, most remakes take the opportunity to explore resources that weren’t available to the original, but Last House seems to suffer from losing the Indie edge that the original had. The added budget didn’t really bring much to the table except for better looking actors and some splatter effects. All in all, the film felt like a glossy, watered down version of the original. Yes, it was easier to sit through, but it lacked the same impact. I’d rate it a solid 2 stars out of 4…or to quote The Simpsons: “meh”.