Monday, June 1, 2009

Review - Last House on the Left

A gang helmed by a prison escapee kidnap and assualt two teenage girls raping and leaving them for dead. The gang takes refuge from a powerful storm at a nearby vacation home only to find out that the house they are staying in, is one of the girl's home. Before long, the parents learn just what their new house guests have done and seek deadly retribution for what the gang did to their daughter.

"The Last House on the Left" was a huge disappointment stemming from the mind of horror master Wes Craven. This remake of the Craven's first directorial effort was a steaming pile of crap and leaves me only wanting to watch the original instead of the dismal updated remake. I honestly cannot pinpoint what exactly I hated so much about this film, other than it just did not sit well with me. The storytelling was marginal, the performances weren't necessarily too bad, some of the violence was brutal, but in the end, I found "The Last House on the Left" to be an utter waste of time.

Director Dennis Iliadis takes Wes Craven's vicious story, but forgot to include the intensity. In a film where two 17-year-old girls are kidnapped, brutally beaten, raped and left for dead, one would expect a bit of a tension. Instead the film seemed to drag along never reaching the levels of ferocity it very well could have. I wanted to be on the edge of my seat grabbing on and holding my breath, when really, I got a movie that could have put me to sleep. I am reminded of other films similair in nature like last year's The Strangers or Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects which easily created a raw sense of intensity that "The Last House on the Left" lacked. "The Last House on the Left" really only has viable intesity for probably the last 15 minutes of the film, when the ball actually gets rolling. Prior to that, the film moves along dragging it's feet in unnecessary dialogue and story development that do nothing but take the viewer out of the film.

The gore in a film about a sadistic gang who beat, rape and leave for dead two teenage girls was considerably lacking in "The Last House on the Left." I expected a lot more from the film, that truely only delivers in the last act. The rape scene (as it should have been) was hard to watch, but the very same scene in the original, was far more brutal and still leaves a more sickening impression than the update. Unfortunately, here in the update, the violence and tension only come in spurts and do not create enough intensity to hold on strong throughout the 110 minute film. Just when I thought the film would get moving, something would come along and slow down the pace of the film pulling me right back into boredom.

One avenue of "The Last House on the Left" that did not bother too much me was the acting. The original has some of the worst dialogue ever written and was poorly performed by it's unknown cast. However, here in the update the acting is tolerable and even has a few surprising performances. Garret Dillahunt is wonderfully sadistic as Krug the escaped convict and leader of the gang. Tony Goldwyn (who I haven't seen in a big role since Ghost) and Monica Potter do a capable jobs playing John and Emma Collingwood, the father and mother of the raped daughter. Goldwyn has always had a solid tenacity that comes across well in thriller-esque films and Potter conveyed every avenue of a mother that would stop at nothing to see justice come to her daughters attackers.

Aaron Paul, who is fantastic on television's Breaking Bad, was ultimately a disappointment here as Francis. His role in the original was deeply disturbing and produced some of the more gruesome violence, especially when he disembowels one of the teenage girls. Here in the update however, he is given little to do but stare at the girls, and sadly his fate is no where near as vile as it was in the original. The rest of the cast including Spencer Treat Clark, Sara Paxton, Martha MacIsaac and Riki Lindhome go mainly unnoticed not producing any remarkable or notable performances, but at the same time do not hinder the film any more that it already has on it's own.

The current version of "The Last House on the Left" is in almost every way a lesser film than Wes Craven's original. The original was much more violent and far more enjoyable. The gang itself was better constructed and seemed convincingly more barbaric in the original. Even the parents themselves took their revenge out on the gang in far more brutal ways than here in the update. In the original, the mother seduces one of the gang members only to bite his penis off. While here in the remake, the mother seduces Francis only to shove his hand down a garbage disposal. I think we all can agree that biting a penis off is a helluva lot more gruesome then taking a finger off in a garbage disposal. Another disappointment in the remake comes when the viewer realizes that the ending to the film has already been carelessly revealed in the trailers, leaving absolutely no anxiety of what is to come in the finale. Finally, "The Last House on the Left" is a perfect example of why some films just do not need to be remade or updated in any way.