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The Last House on the Left (2009)

November 3, 2009

VERDICT:
4/10 Staycations

Could have been better if it hadn’t left such a bad taste in my mouth.

The Last House on the Left is about a husband, a wife, and their teenage daughter that head down to their lake house for the Summer. On the first day they get there, the daughter peaces out to go hang out with her friend for the day, one thing leads to another and they find themselves smokin’ doobies in a hotel room with a boy they met at a convenience store. Then the kid’s homicidal hillbilly family crashes the party like the total buzzkills they are, leading them to rape the daughter and kill her friend. One thing leads to another and the daughter makes her way back home only for her parents to realize that the drifters they took in for the night are the very people who left their daughter for dead.

Cue the killing spree.

I didn’t think the synopsis would end up being that long, but a number of things had to be mentioned because they tie into what held this movie back for me.

The first is that, for the most part, the characters here aren’t very stupid, but every now and again they do indeed make very stupid decisions that go against very common sense behavior. This is a problem everyone has with horror movies and while I hate to sound like a broken record about it, it’s not my damn fault. Yeah, teenagers do stupid shit all the time, but don’t smoke weed with strangers, and, for the love of God, don’t go back to their hotel room to do it. Give me a break.

Also, mom and dad, when you have the Manson family hanging out in your guest house, don’t go in there with a fire poker to take them all out. Bizarre weapon choice when you’ve got steak knives sitting on your counter.

But then again, this doesn’t happen a whole lot. It makes me cringe with frustration when it does, but the characters seem to wise up a bit after their initial stupidity has passed. They eventually start using their brains to break down the best way to take these mofos out, and once that starts happening, things get a lot more entertaining. Not often you see microwaves turned into murder weapons. Alright, maybe Gremlins, but that’s about it.

The acting is fine, but special mention to Tony Goldwyn (aka: the guy who played that a-hole in Ghost) as the daughter’s badass father. Haven’t seen him in much since the days when he was screwing over Swayze, but the dude doesn’t mess around. And it’s nice to see characters in horror movies that actually keep their cool when the shit hits the fan. Quite refreshing indeed.

Director Dennis Iliadis also does a solid job of making this movie look really good. It’s very well put together, looks very crisp and keeps you on edge for the most part. Pretty impressive, just wish he had better material to work with is all.

But my big complaint with The Last House on the Left is the rape scene. It’s not often I find myself fast-forwarding through sections of movies, but neither I nor my good buddy Fred had any desire to sit and watch a teenage girl get helplessly raped by two guys in the woods for what felt like ten minutes. I know this movie isn’t glorifying rape or anything like that, but it just gets to a point where the camera won’t cut away and you can’t help but think, “Give me a fucking break. Why would I want to watch this?” It’s an awful scene and it’s just far too graphic for its own good.

Now, I haven’t seen the original, and while I was pretty turned off by this remake at times, I’m still pretty interested to see Wes Craven’s take on it. Will report back on it someday. Not sure I’d recommend The Last House on the Left, but it’s not without its strengths. Had the potential to be really good, but, boy howdy, could this have used a good dose of subtlety to even out the mix.

Yikes.

Good trailer, though. Worth a watch.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. November 3, 2009 1:37 am

    Personally I loved this film, mainly for its take on violence and the way we try to justify violence in our society.

    I can understand why you, and so many others, were put off by the rape scene but for me it was a brilliant piece of film making. It is brutal, reprehensible and abhorrent, but I think it needs to be in order for the true abhorrence of these characters to be fully expressed. It’s not a scene that is fun or enjoyable to watch by any measure, but when all is said and done it may be the best scene I’ve watched in all of 2009, as weird as that sounds.

    • November 3, 2009 9:39 am

      Yeah, I dug your review. Would have given it a higher rating it for weren’t for that scene, but I don’t know man, I get where you’re coming from, but I still they would have been pretty damn reprehensible if the rape was implied rather than shown full frontal. Like the ear cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs where you don’t see it happening but it’s still the most brutal part of movie, I think something like that could have been done. Idk, not my movie, still liked it otherwise though.

      • November 3, 2009 9:46 am

        The rape could have been implied, but for what Illiadis was going for I think it needed to be shown. The audience is supposed to have trouble with that scene, if anyone watching it didn’t have a hard time getting through that scene then that says a lot about them. The way I believe it is balanced out and serves its purpose is how Illiadis refuses to exploit the scene. There are moments when he could have focused on her violated area or shown how bloody a rape is, but he shied away from that because that didn’t need to be shown.

        Like I said, I understand where you are coming from, just giving my two cents.

      • November 3, 2009 12:06 pm

        I hear ya man, same here. Good points, an easy scene to get talking about.

  2. November 3, 2009 10:44 am

    I’ve been meaning to watch my copy of the original for a good few months now, this review has just bumped it to the top of the list. Should have it posted by the weekend.

    Most graphic film I’ve seen for violence / rape has been ‘Irreversible’ (France) C. 2000. Monica Bellucci gets her shit ruined for about 8 minutes… 😦 As bill says, it’s usually critical to the story or characters. The original Funny Games (1997), and most Michael Haneke films, centre around the theme of violence and how we all consume it through the media / film. I’ll never forget the first time I watched that… highly recommended. Not seen the recent re-make yet.

    • November 3, 2009 12:05 pm

      Saw the Funny Games remake, harrowing in a different way from this, wasn’t what I expected it to be. Didn’t like it initially, grew on my a lot the more I thought about it. And I’ve seen a couple scenes from Irreversible, and yeah, that shit is messed up. That’s what you get from Gaspar Noe though. You ever see I Stand Alone? Brutal.

  3. November 4, 2009 1:41 pm

    The best word to describe Irreversible as a whole is “Nauseous”… Never fails to shock, but it’s still an alright film. Haven’t seen I Stand Alone yet, but have added it to my “to buy” list… which is spiraling out of control!

  4. mcarteratthemovies permalink
    November 5, 2009 12:20 pm

    There was absotively, posolutely NO REASON to do a remake of this movie. Still I saw it, ignoring that gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach that I get when any movie stars Monica Potter. My rule about this: If SHE’s the only actress you could pull for your remake, I’m not paying money to see it.

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