Saturday, September 1, 2018

THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (2009) Blu-ray Review

The Last House on the Left (2009) d. Dennis Iliadis (USA)

When it was first announced, I will openly admit to shuddering at the thought of a big budget remake (even one co-produced by Wes Craven himself) of the notorious 1972 low budget shocker. However, against all odds, while not nearly as discomfiting as the original, the redux manages to carve out its own territory and more than satisfies on its own terms.

Most notable is the shift in tone: Craven’s drive-in classic very much dwells in the realm of “violence begets violence, leaving us all savages,” while Adam Alleca and Carl Ellsworth’s screenplay clearly delineates the good guys (Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter) from the bad guys (Aaron Paul, Rikki Lindhome, Garret Dillahunt), resulting in a straightforward “revenge thriller” vibe.

And thrills there are aplenty, from the opening scenes depicting Krug’s escape from the authorities to the vicious cat ‘n’ mouse, stalking-amidst-the-shadows finale. Even if the performers are perhaps a little too Hollywood pretty, the acting far and away surpasses its predecessor’s humble thesping, with Sara Paxton (Cheap Thrills, The Innkeepers) making an early screen appearance as the unfortunate Mari.

While a few punches are pulled plot-wise in order to be more accessible to general audiences (and to garner its “R” rating), director Iliadis and his f/x team do not skimp on the hemoglobin, with garbage disposals and microwaves being put to imaginatively gruesome use, and the rape scenes are onscreen, intact, and as emotionally brutal as they are required to be.

True, viewers are deprived (as they were with the 2006 remake of Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes) of the underlying social commentary that makes the film more than just a thrill ride, but as thrill rides go, it’s sharply done, well-acted, and unpleasant in all the right ways. With this, My Bloody Valentine, Friday the 13th, It’s Alive, and The Uninvited (the American version of A Tale of Two Sisters), 2009 was that rare year in which horror remakes didn’t completely suck.

The Last House on the Left is available now on Blu-ray from Universal Pictures and can easily be found online at a variety of outlets, such as:


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