Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Last House on the Left (2009)

(Note: This review was originally published in June 2009)


I’ll be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for this film simply because of how brutal the original was. Despite the pioneering efforts of Eli Roth and Rob Zombie to see just how far you can push an uncomfortable situation and still get a theatrical release, a lot of film-makers out there tend to choose the safe route when dealing with subjects like rape, torture, and horrific methods of revenge.

Yes, there are some very distinctive visual clues to follow so that you can see exactly where this remake wimped out.

But before I get into that, I will say that I really liked the character-building on this remake, at least in comparison to some of the other “re-envisioned” films I’ve seen.

*cough* The Hills Have Eyes *cough* The Wicker Man *cough* Day of the Dead *cough cough cough.*

So we have a family spending some time in their vacation home in the middle of nowhere and we hear all about how Mother’s irresponsible brother spent the week before at the house to go fishing. Yeah, every family has one of those relatives. But much to their surprise and amazement, the house isn’t a mess and the brother even left them a nice $4 bottle of champagne as a thank you for letting him stay there, a bottle they make very clear that they don’t intend to drink.

Okay, is it just me, or does the placement of such a prop just scream out “Hey, what a wonderful way to exact a horrible and satisfying mode of revenge on a rapist?”

And the bottle was never seen again.

Speaking of rape, and I may be really alone in my opinion here, but it seems to me that if you are going to show a rape on film than you should do it right. (Or, as my husband so eloquently put it, “A rape scene should leave me throwing up a little in my mouth.”)

With the way the rape (notice I use the singular here) was portrayed, I was left wondering why, and if, they did it at all. I say “if” because I’m hard-pressed to say if the attacker (again, singular) even had his pant down. Now there have been some beautifully executed rape scenes on film, from The Accused and the original The Last House on the Left to name a few. Some have been downright artistic, like in A Clockwork Orange, some mildly amusing-but-memorable like Deliverance, and others just left the audience nauseous like I Spit on Your Grave. But the good ones leave the audience uncomfortable, and I didn’t see any sign of that on the faces of my fellow movie-watchers tonight.

But I can forgive the lackluster rape scene with as quickly as the pace picks up from this point. The fights were brutal and believable. The changes they made from the original worked out fine, even letting a couple characters live who weren’t so fortunate the first time around. One particular mode of revenge was replaced with something a little friendlier toward male viewers, but it was done well enough to make a suitable replacement to death by fellatio.

The injuries were wonderful and very realistic for the most part. I was impressed.

So after all is said and done, our surviving heroes go motor-boating into the sunset… and then all the good things I had to say about the movie were completely invalidated in one final scene.

This is my solemn advice to anyone wanting to see this film: When you see the battered survivors pull out of the boat house in a motorboat, get up and exit the theatre as fast as you can. Do not be tempted to look at the screen. Trust me on this.

Okay, if you really must know, there’s a poorly done “flashback” (Or at least, I think it was a flashback because I’m fairly certain that Father was steering the boat.) Remember when I said that I was impressed with the realistic injuries? Well, that was before a microwave oven came into play.

I can’t help but imagine a director/producers meeting where someone stood up and said “Well, we’ll never get a theatrical release if we go with shoving a champagne bottle up his ass, so let’s just blow him up with a microwave instead!”

Film information: The Last House on the Left

Original Film:

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