Friday, March 13, 2009

Film Review: Last House on the Left (2009)

"To avoid puking, just repeat 'It's almost a remake, it's almost a remake"

I had to do it. Went to the very first screening with 12 other idiots. Such is my love for the original, that I had to see what kind of travesty the "geniuses" of the modern horror film would make of the quirky but depraved Craven classic. After sitting through all 100 minutes (!) of this "reimagining" (as they like to call them these days), I can honestly say that if this came out today as a completely original movie, I'd probably say "that was pretty sick; not bad". However, as a remake it fails on all accounts. How shall I count the ways? Note: tons of spoilers, but who cares when such a crime against a classic piece of horror cinema has been commited?

1. The script, by a couple of young nobodies, is practically non-existent. Since the movie relies on nothing but action, gore, and people staring each other down, the characters are given NOT A SINGLE MEMORABLE LINE, therefore none of them are developed whatsoever as people. What was great about the original is that each of the "baddies" had their own personalities, with good and bad qualities. Here they are just generically evil. With nothing to work with, the actors (save Sara Paxton as Mari and maybe Monica Potter as her mother) have no choice but to be humorless and wooden.

2. The overall tone and look of the film is exactly in keeping with all the other "torture porn" modern horror trash out there: humorless, dark in tone and look, ultra violent and gory, but completely empty. Sure, it's "brootal", but so what? Might as well see "Saw 6" or "Hostel 3". If they're doing a remake, they could have kept a LITTLE of the original's campiness.

3. Mari lives! WTF? The rape is by nature unsettling, but a crucial difference with the original is that here Krug rapes Mari from behind and we see her crying face, but not Krug's. This doesn't pack the punch of David Hess drooling into Sandra Peabody's face. Also, he doesn't carve his initials in her neck (why?). Instead of Mari's comatose walk into the lake and subsequent execution, here she gets up from the rape, smashes Krug with a rock, and escapes into the lake swimming a mile a minute (she's a competitive swimmer). Krug manages to shoot her in the upper back, but she swims all the way home. Doc Collingwood heals her, and after dispatching the baddies, they take her to the hospital as the credits roll. Lame. Also, the baddies' "moment of remorse" is left out, an important omission, as it shows how in the original, the killers were humanized; here they aren't.

4. Junior ("Justin") is not a junkie, nor does he deliberately deliver the girls up to "Krug and Company". He's partying with them in the motel room and thinks the gang will be out for a while. He just seems like a dumb kid. In the end, he even betrays the gang by giving Mrs Collingwood Mari's necklace and Doc Collingwood Krug's gun. Instead of the crucial "blow your brains out" scene, Krug just stabs his son with a fireplace poker, but the Collingwoods save him in the end and he survives with Mari. Lame again.

5. The killers don't take the girls into the woods for torture deliberately; Mari causes them to crash the car in the woods, and they are stuck there. There is no "piss your pants", no enforced lesbianism, no real torture at all. Phyllis ("Paige") is stabbed as in the original, but there is no disembowelment or amputation of her hand.

6. Weasel ("Francis") dies, but there is no castration, and the infamous "dentist" dream is left out. Instead he is stabbed, has his arm shoved down a garbage disposal (?!!?), and given a claw hammer to the head. More mundane is Sadie's death; instead of the catfight with Emma Collingwood, she is simply shot twice in the head. Boring.

7. Doc Collingwood doesn't set any of Craven's trademark "traps" for Krug. Sure, they were goofy in the original, but it was fun amidst the carnage. This movie takes itself so seriously, that Krug and Doc have a battle royale all over the house that goes on forever. In the end, the Collingwoods subdue Krug, paralyze him by some kind of surgery, and stick his head in the microwave (which mysteriously works with it's door open!), where it explodes. Come on, people, no chainsaw? And they call this a "remake"?

8. Finally, ex-Disney and Lifetime Network uber-babe Sara Paxton strips down briefly to bra and panties, but no nudity, even during the rape. Come on, people.


John said...

I started writing comment, then it got too long, so I'm making it an entry in my blog. check it out for my drawn out response.

by the way, I saw a trailer for the new Last House that is SOOO bad. I thought it was a joke or parody trailer at first.

Anonymous said...

you nailed it on ALL counts. visit, register for an account, and leave a comment on the story titled "the porn roots of last house on the left".

thebonebreaker said...

While I enjoyed the re-make, I HATED [with a passion] Krug's death scene - Ugh! I cannot believe that the filmmakers thought that was an acceptable idea!