|release date||March 13 2009|
|writer||Mark Haslett, Carl Ellsworth, Adam Alleca|
|starring||Garret Dillahunt, Rhys Coiro, Martha MacIsaac, Riki Lindhome, Sara Paxton, Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter|
|tagline||If bad people hurt someone you love, how far would you go to hurt them back?|
|trailer 1||Trailer #1|
On an old commentary track for the original The Last House on the Left, director Wes Craven said that he hoped to never revisit that time in his life again. After viewing the film years ago, I felt the same. It’s a tough, brutal and real piece of celluloid that leaves the viewer with such a tremendous amount of stress, nobody should have to endure it. Yet, here we are in 2009 – 37 years after the original hit theaters screaming the phrase “Keep repeating, it’s only a movie…” – watching a remake of the famed horror film (that was actually a remake of Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring from 1960).
Putting all hypocrisy aside, walking into this remake my expectations were low, and I mean very low. For one thing, the original has significant social commentary about The Vietnam War. With Hollywood’s ideas collapsing, and originality out the door, the best I was hoping for would be something “pretty” and completely generic… I was wrong.
While at the hands of a less competent director, Last House could have been an epic failure, but Dennis Iliadis has proven to the world that he’s more than capable of directing a film of this caliber – and taking it to a higher level.
In Rogue Pictures’ remake of Craven’s classic film from 1972, John (Tony Goldwyn) and Emma (Monica Potter) Collingwood are on vacation at their lakeshore house when, by a bizarre twist of fate, they give shelter to the sociopaths who have just assaulted and nearly killed their daughter (Sara Paxton). Upon discovering the truth, they exact a chilling revenge on her attackers.
What Iliadis brings to the table is a high level of suspense that Hitchcock would be proud of. Using Hitchcock’s coined “bomb theory”, Iliadis gives the audience and the family all of the information, while keeping the villains in the dark. But what really impressed me was his obvious understanding of his audience.
Last House begins with one tone and ends in another. The first 20 minutes are loaded with “fake” scares and feature “good times” with Mari Collingwood and her friend Paige. It becomes obvious at this point (or so it appears) that Iliadis is catering to “teens” that are new to the horror genre… but secretly he’s not. The (average) audience will never even see it coming as they are soon blindsided with the reality of the situation… they are now trapped in a theater with Iliadis playing their nerves as if he’s been a master of horror for decades.
While Last House isn’t as brutal as the original film, it’s extremely impressive how suspenseful, violent and entertaining it is without resorting to the gross-out factor (**sans one spoiler moment, which you can read my rant on below). I loved that there weren’t teeth being punched out, or nails being cracked off – save that for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But we do see plenty of bloodshed and are treated to an impressive hour and half that will shake the average moviegoer to the core (but we all know this is nothing to us horror fans). Although you won’t see our victim urinating or biting off a penis, ask yourself if it’s really necessary.
Screenwriters Adam Alleca and Carl Ellsworth do an impressive job of keeping the integrity of Craven’s masterpiece intact while injecting some new life by contrasting the Collingwood parents to Krug (Garret Dillahunt) and his brother Francis (Aaron Paul). This underlying theme of parenthood – good or bad – is interesting when stripped down to its primal roots. When you have to dig deep inside yourself, what would you do for your own child?
While many horror fans will bastardize The Last House on the Left simply because it’s a remake, taking a step back will allow them to see what a wonderful film this truly is (and don’t forget that the original was a remake itself). In the end, the combination of incredible acting, astounding cinematography and creative direction blend Iliadis’ film into something that, much like the original, will stand the test of time.
**SPOILER-FILLED RANT ABOUT THE FINALE**
While the film is near flawless, The Last House on the Left features a moment that has me enraged, a moment you can all watch as I speak. In the trailer you might have caught a moment where a certain character has his head in the microwave. Well, just like Quarantine did before it, the trailer for Last House displays the final shots of the film. But it’s not the fact that they ruin it in the trailer that I’m ranting about, it the fact that this scene exists. The entire movie is stationed to be in this realistic world, a place that’s dark, cold and unforgiving. It’s primal. Yet, they felt the need to end the film on a “light note”, which is so f*cking typical of a studio film. Why let the audience walk out of the theater feeling like crap? Basically they Spielberg-ed the ending by sticking a character’s head in a broken microwave and making it explode. While I’m not even sure that’s even possible, it’s such a ridiculous Peter Jackson-esque moment that belongs in a movie like Dead Alive and not The Last House on the Left. It’s obvious this moment is in here so the audience feels a sense of closure and glee as they return to their safe homes. This scene is NOT what the movie is and has no place in it. I wish it to hell. My advice to you who dared to read these spoilers, walk out of the theater the second you think it’s over. Wait, don’t walk… run!