The Last House on the Left

2009-05-21 17:35
 

What it's about:

In a remake of Wes Craven's 1972 movie of the same name, itself a remake of Ingmar Bergman's Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring), comes the horrifying story of a group of convicts, lead by psycho killer Krug, who brutally assault two teenage girls in a forest, leaving them both for dead. With no means of transport, Krug and his gang seek refuge for the night at the lakehouse of the parents of one of the girls. What ensues can best be described as the most disturbing, albeit incredibly tense, movie experiences of recent years.

What we thought of it:

Is a microwave operational with its door held open? Is it possible for a waif of a teenage girl to also be a champion swimmer? And what is a bag of Snowflake cake flour doing in the kitchen of an American country house?

These and other banal ponderings come to mind, as a defensive mechanism I guess, while enduring the visceral shock and awe that is inherent in every dark frame of Wes Craven's homage to, well, himself. He acts as producer on this re-imagined version of his notorious breakout hit, alongside long-time production partner Sean S. Cunningham (Friday the 13th, Freddy vs. Jason). What they, along with Greek director Dennis Iliadis, have perpetrated is an uncomfortably realistic portrayal of sadism that pits two very different families against each other.

Krug, played with creepy charisma by Garret Dillahunt (Deadwood, No Country for Old Men) has escaped police custody with the help of his posse of crazies, girlfriend Sadie (Riki Lindhome) and brother Francis (Aaron Paul). Meanwhile, Krug's meek son Justin brings two girls to their motel room for some fun, but, in Craven's visionary hell, any young girl looking for a good time is destined for nothing but pain and wretchedness.

The two unfortunate girls are Mari, who's in town for a weekend holiday with her parents, and local floozy Paige. After being kidnapped by Krug, a night of unspeakable torture unfolds. It's all incredibly difficult to watch, in particular a harrowing scene of rape that will either have you burrowing your head behind the person next to you, or fleeing the theatre in hysterics. You've been warned.

Things take a vengeful turn when the gang arrive on the doorstep of Mari's parents' (played by Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter) house, and two decent, ordinary people are faced with the prospect of going to extreme means to exact a primal sense of justice when they discover just who they've allowed into their home.

Gore-lovers will revel in the movie's enthusiastic bloodshed, as each side sets about finding more gruesome ways of offing each other (hammers, shower curtain rails and butcher knives are involved). The cameo appearance of a bag of Snowflake flour, as well as a few other pieces of evidence, will alert keen-eyed audiences to the fact that the movie was not filmed in the Pacific North-West where the story takes place, but rather in a pine forest just outside Cape Town.

When all's been said and done, the movie has been so expertly plotted and edited that the helpless, claustrophobic experience of watching the nihilism unfold is almost a mirror of the events on screen. It may be low budget and feature a cast of mostly unknowns, but The Last House on the Left succeeds in its mission to leave you a changed person. Those with weaker constitutions should avoid it at all costs, but the high entertainment value of the movie cannot be denied. Believe me, I tried.



What do Cape Town and master of horror Wes Craven have to do with each other? All’s revealed in the most disturbing movie of the year.

Bork Blatt 2009/05/22 2:17 PM
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A gruesome rape scene = entertainment? We have become a very sad society indeed. Movies like this serve one of 3 purposes: - Desensitize an already numb audience even further to the suffering of others - Traumatize the innocent - Fuel fantasies of the people who identify with the antagonists. Watching a movie like this for entertainment is like swallowing a table spoon of caustic soda for fine dining.
marilyn 2009/05/22 3:04 PM
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It is time our Producers start making movies like this in SA by SA writers!
BrainDedd 2009/05/22 3:45 PM
Mmmmm ... caustic soda ... :P
nothesam 2009/05/22 6:27 PM
Why!! Ever been thru realistic trauma? If the answer is yes u won't need this, sick! is my comment
Dufus 2009/05/22 8:10 PM
Soddom and Gommorra? Will we soon be watching this sort of thing live in our 20/10 arenas?
Recato Cristiano Eberwein 2009/05/23 12:31 AM
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I think rugby should be banned from country. It is a supremist sport still respresenting the oppressors. Bow down to the legend of Steve Biko.
Amanda 2009/05/24 3:21 AM
In reality, rape and brutal murder are happening at our doorsteps every day. Being a sensitive viewer, I will definitely not be seeing this movie. But it does make one wonder what terrible ordeal crime victims do go through within that moment when it is being committed.
Smee 2009/05/25 6:26 AM
Wes' last few movies were IMO rather on the weak side. Still, if I knew he was in SA I'd have loved to have meet him. After all, he is Freddy. 1...2...Freddy's coming for you... classic!
Chris 2009/05/25 7:55 AM
@Recato Cristiano Eberwein - You are a racist and I wish a happy suffering for you on your awesome HIV sickness.
Danny 2009/05/25 9:31 AM
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The movie was terrible!! Not scary, hardly entertaining and a waste of time... The movie had NO entertainment value, WTF were you on when you watched it???
Yawn 2009/05/25 12:09 PM
the rape scene!!!overall this movie is just, well im speechless it would have been better watching paint dry.
blahblah 2009/05/25 12:48 PM
Recato you clown... is it your real name ? Dont mind him, he's a serial poster, trying to get a response. Definitely in a nice cushy government job, with time on his hands ....
mr mcfisto 2009/05/25 12:56 PM
Yes Recato, i agree with you. They should stop playing rugby. the first player they should stop is your little friend mr watson and his daddy
presehen govender 2009/05/26 2:27 PM
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@Bork I agree with you if we wanted to see a gruesome rape scene we will watch cctv @ jz house
Grant Aubin 2009/05/27 12:46 PM
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The new version of Wes Craven's 1972 exploitation classic, "Last House on the Left", is a way, way softer and far less sleazier film. The violence is still pretty intense, but the heroine's mom doesn't bite off anyone's penis this time round. And there's less nudity: gone is the scene (in the original) where Krug makes the girls strip and touch each other. And nobody gets their intestines removed here. Nor is the one young victim forced to urinate on herself. The big difference is in the acting quality of the new film. The cast is strong: Aaron Paul ("Breaking Bad", "Big Love"), Tony Goldwyn ("Ghost", "The Last Samurai"), "Monica Potter ("Along Came a Spider"), Spencer Treat Clark ("Gladiator", "Mystic River"), "Garret Dillahunt" and Martha McIsaac ("Superbad"). Even Sarah Paxton proves she can genuinely act - delivering a solid, believable performance. The first half of the new film - which is very well made on a budget of about $10 to $12 million (Craven's original cost a mere $90 000) - is tense, harrowing and unpleasant as the girls are abducted and the Paxton character is raped. The rape sequence is sad, unsettling and disturbing (as it should be), but non-exploitative. The viewer experiences the victim's physical pain and emotional suffering. We see it from her point-of-view, not the scumbag rapists point-of-view. Where the film really differs from the original in tone, is in the second half. Here, when we watch the righteous revenge of the parents, we cheer on the good guys. Which is why America critic David Edelstein described the flick as a "feelgood" revenge film. And other critics have compared it to "Taken". In the original film, the vengeance aspect was not shown as a solution. You felt icky and troubled by the carnage when the pic was over. Still, this is a pretty good remake. A (relatively)low budget film that delivers in a big way. Initially it was going to be released direct to DVD in the States, but after preview audiences responded positively, the picture went out on the big screen. And has currently grossed around $35 million at the US box-office. It's actually worth seeing. And. if there's actually anyone besides me in SA who has watched the original, they will enjoy seeing what new writers, a new director and an excellent cast have brought to the part. The new film is more of a revenge thriller than a horror flick, and I wouldn't describe it as an exploitation flick.
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