The Last House on the Left (2009)

"OK"

The Last House on the Left (2009) Review


Nearly 40 years ago, quasi-hippy filmmakers Wes Craven and Sean S. Cunningham were looking to make a name for themselves (and a little cash, if possible) in the thriving New York exploitation scene. Working with some intent distributors, they adapted Igmar Bergman's Virgin Spring for the drive-in, and a grindhouse classic -- Last House on the Left -- was born. With its memorable marketing campaign ("repeat to yourself... it's only a movie... it's only a movie) and direct, documentary style, it had impact and import during a crucial time in post-modern American cinema. As with several of Craven's past projects, Last House has now been remade for the post-millennial crowd, and that's too bad. This tedious, tepid update offers none of the original's brutality or energy.

It's time for summer vacation and the Collingwood family -- doctor dad (Tony Goldwyn), teacher mom (Monica Potter), and daughter Mari (Sara Paxton) -- are heading to their isolated lake house for a little R&R. Sadly, the teenage girl will soon run into escaped killer Krug (Garrett Dillahunt), his son Justin (Spencer Treat Clark), the equally unhinged Francis (Aaron Paul), and gonzo gal pal Sadie (Riki Lindhome). Along with her buddy Paige (Martha MacIsaac), Mari will be tortured, abused, and left for dead. When the criminals show up at the Collingwood home looking for lodging, it's not long before the parents find out what happened... and when they do, the tables are turned and no one is safe.

If there is one thing that the 2009 remake of the 1972 sleazoid classic lacks, it's urgency. Last House on the Left was never a laconic or laid-back experience. Yet this update is not in your face so much as behind you, whispering quietly. Craven and Cunningham managed to get their sickening, sadistic point across in 84 explosive minutes. There was no narrative fat on their thrill ride, even if the bumbling sheriff and his dimwitted deputy seemed like leftovers from a bad burlesque act. But under the tutelage of filmmaker Dennis Iliadis, everything here gets slowed down and expanded. Clocking in at nearly an hour and three-quarters, someone should have stepped in with the editorial scissors. Scenes go on far too long; pointless encounters do little except extend the time before blood is shed.

While he shows some skill behind the lens, Iliadis forgets the first thing about creating viable tension: getting us to care. We do sympathize (sort of) with the Collingwood clan, especially with the newly trumped up backstory about a dead older son. But before we know it, Mari is off with her inconsequential friend, the two are doping it up with weepy loser Justin, and Krug and crew suddenly appear and start showboating. A car crash, stabbing, and rather intense rape later, and Mom and Pop are putting on the feedbag for our spree killers. Critics love to point out that the original murderers felt some manner of remorse before the Collingwoods went Voorhees on them, but nowhere in this update do Krug, Sadie, or Francis ever once act like anything other than cardboard cutout criminals.

With performances better than the material offered (especially from Paxton, who does some amazing, breakthrough work here) and a wonderful bit of last-act gore, this revamp is not bad, just bewildering. Instead of realistic, it's relaxed in its approach to atrocity. Somewhere between the Manson family and the Madoff scandal, Wes Craven went from a motion picture outsider to a staple of "scary" movies. The Last House on the Left is reverent to his original. Too bad it's not as nasty.

WASH ME!!!



Facts and Figures

Production compaines: Rogue Pictures, Film Afrika, Sean S. Cunningham Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Dennis Iliadis

Starring: as John Collingwood, as Emma Collingwood, as Mari Collingwood, as Paige, as Justin, as Krug, Riki Lindhome as Sadie, Joshua Cox as Giles, as Morton, as Francis

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.