The Last House on the Left

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Review byMatthew Turner11/06/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 110 mins

As pointless remakes go, this is actually pretty good, thanks to strong performances, impressive camerawork and stylish direction, though a series of subtle changes have neutered the impact of the original film, rendering this a largely conventional experience.

What's it all about?
Directed by Dennis Iliadis, The Last House on the Left is a remake of Wes Craven's 1972 rape-revenge classic, which was itself inspired by Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring. Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter star as John and Emma Collingwood, whose lake house vacation goes horribly wrong when their athletic daughter Mari (Sara Paxton) is abducted and raped by psychotic escaped convict Krug (Garrett Dillahunt), and his accomplices, brother Frances (Aaron Paul), deranged girlfriend Sadie (Riki Lindhome) and whiny, pale-faced son Justin (Spencer Treat Clark).

After leaving Mari for dead, Krug and his gang seek refuge from a thunderstorm and are welcomed into the lake house by the Collingwoods. However, when they discover what Krug has done to their daughter, John and Emma exact violent, bloody revenge on their houseguests.

The Good
The performances are excellent, particularly Dillahunt, who makes Krug a disturbingly attractive and complex figure, rather than the twitching, drooling psychopath he could have been – the rape scene, for example, is all the more frightening because it comes out of nowhere. Similarly, there's good work from both Goldwyn and Potter, though Paxton seems a little too blank-faced and passive throughout her ordeal, which lessens the impact somewhat – you feel sorrier for her best friend, played by Martha MacIsaac.

The film is also beautifully shot, with stunning cinematography courtesy of Sharone Meir – one artistic shot in particular wouldn't be out of place in a BBC nature documentary.

The Bad
The film's biggest problem is that it tones down the excesses that made the original film one of the classic Video Nasties (the disembowelling scene has gone, for example) and in doing so it has neutered the film's impact and rendered it conventional rather than shocking.

Worth seeing?
The Last House on the Left is a well made, well acted horror flick that's by no means the worst of the recent spate of remakes, though it's a long way from the unremitting ordeal of the original film. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 19/08/2019 00:49

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