I've never seen the original Last House on the Left, but I hear it was pretty shocking in its day. I knew this was a remake, so I didn't set my expectations too high (we all know how good remakes normally are). Now, I don't know if the words `pleasantly surprised' should be used to describe a film so horrible as Last House on the Left, but it was actually quite good (obviously, if you're in the mood for something so nasty).
Yes, it's very violent - horribly so. The violence will certainly turn a lot of viewers off. It's really only for those with a strong stomach who will get anything out of it. It's about a family who take a vacation to a nig house in the middle of an American forest and come a cropper at the hands of a particularly nasty gang of thieves who are on the run from the authorities.
Firstly the teenage daughter and her friends are subjected to some extreme punishment at the hands of the gang, who then leave her for dead and seek refuge in - none other than - the parents' holiday home. Soon the parents realise that they're harbouring the very people who have hurt their daughter and decide to act some revenge of their own.
The first thing to say is that all the cast play their respective parts well. The family are nice, but not squeaky-clean enough to be annoying. And the villains are bad, but not in a pantomime style. That way, you're rooting for the right people when it comes to dishing out a much-needed taste of their own medicine. Also, the characters behave in a logical way. There might be the odd moment where they do stupid things, but with horror films they're normally doing this all the time. Here, the daftness of decision-making is kept to a minimum.
If you're in the mood for some extreme violence (and the Hostel films won't suffice) then give this a go. It's nasty, but one of the better (dare I call it...) `torture p0rn' films.)
on 18 January 2012
I haven't seen the original of this re-make, so I can't comment on whether it's an improvement. I did read quite a few reviews of this movie, and on the basis of this, I was looking forward to being disturbed, frightened and possibly even offended!
The film is certainly gripping, and the first half an hour isfairly relaxed, with the main focus on being getting to know the characters, developing a sense of empathy with them for what is later going to happen. The movie was very good in this sense, as you did feel something for the two teenaged females, rather than being completely detached as in some other horrors. You do feel like something bad is on its way though, but you're not quite sure what, so I enjoyed the not knowing here.
When the "bad thing" does happen with the two victims, this is a particularly distressing scene. It's not hugely graphic, but it's enough to make you think, 'Why am I enjoying watching this?' These scenes were reasonably drawn out, which made them more uncomfortable. I did find myself drawing similaries between this scene and those in 'Eden Lake', which is, in my opinion, a much more uncomfortable and terrifying film (in a good way!).
After this difficult scene, I wondered where the film was going, but soon enough, you find that perpetrators have made their way to the home of the parents of one of the victims, having looked for shelter from the storm. Whilst, from this point on, the film was filled with suspense and a sense of dread, I did think that some of the scenes were a little daft. My main problem was that I couldn't appreciate why the two parents - having found out that the people to whom they had offered shelter in the annex were guilty of terrible crimes against their daughter - did not evacuate the house as soon as possible; I know that they were six miles from the nearest town, didn't have a car, etc., but for my money, I'd sooner give that a go, knowing that I've got a good five or six hours in which to get the hell out of there, than confronting four (three if you exclude the frightened son of the main perpetrator!) baddies! But then, I suppose the question of the film is that you don't know what you're capable of when you're in that situation.
Once the parents take the decision to exact revenge, I did wonder if the film was going down a similar route to that in a lesser-known film, 'The Tortured', where two parents set out to capture and torture the molestor and murderer of their toddler. I was quite looking forward to that possibility! However, the film instead descends into a bit of a cat-and-mouse affair, and this is where I began to lose interest a little. It was still gripping, but it just became a bit too predictable.
The final scene was, however, completely unexpected. Again, I thought that I would see some prolonged torture scenes, but it was all over too quickly for my liking!
All in all, a decent enough film, but I was expecting more graphic revenge scenes than what was actually delivered - not that that was the fault of the film, of course. I much preferred 'Eden Lake' though. I will be watching 'I Spit On Your Grave' in due course - I understand that this may deliver on the 'graphic scene' expectation!
on 8 January 2010
I've seen the remake of Wes Craven's original and it was pretty good plus disturbing. Having seen my fair share of disturbing films like "Cannibal Holocaust." After watching this up to date version it seems a bit unbalanced and tame along with the unrated version. I say unbalanced because it seems to want to be two different films, in terms of genre and style. The last act and the only parts worth watching, seem to fall under the 'torture porn' genre, for example "Hostel," "Saw" and countless other horror films that rely on gross out gore to entertain the audience. Nothing wrong with this of course because I love my gore in horror flicks. This film does have some great deaths, even if they are a bit over the top. Hammers, garbage disposals, microwaves, all these are great death scenes. Yet the rest of the film (save for the rape bits) seem to belong to another film all together.
The acting is by the numbers, yet I found Dillahunt and Goldwyn are the stand out performances. Dillahunt, from Deadwood, plays Krug, the lead gang member. He walks the line of being nice, at least to me. He plays it nice, yet his actions are despicable. I say he played it nice because Aaron Paul, who plays another member of the gang is pretty "evil" and over the top. Goldwyn plays the father and has intense moments that is all played through his eyes. The two of them have a fight scene that was not in the original and it seems too fake, just to fill some time.
The story is predictable, even if you haven't seen the original and is by the numbers. In a film like this, I was expecting more shock moments. The final act had two, yet this film cries for more. As a remake, I'd say I've seen worse (Prom Night), but there are certainly better (Dawn of the Dead) remakes out there. Another thing that struck me was the flow of the movie, if you could call it that. While there are some strong emotional scenes, the movie doesn't know (or want) to emotionalize until the end. May be that's just my feeling here. At the end I didn't feel bad, but I certainly didn't feel as relieved as in "Taken."
Director Illiadis has a passion for blood, his shots of flesh cutting and his close ups in general but it's not enough to sustain a large amount of interest in what is, essentially, a film supposed to be actually about something. "Last House On The Left" is a well made film, don't get me wrong. If you're into this type of horror stuff then it might satisfy you.
on 4 October 2009
When I looked at the title, I thought it was going to be a excellent Saturday night entertainment of pure horror. Instead it's a unsettling and disturbing revenge movie. The story is a young girl goes out with her friend only to be taken by a group of strangers, they beat and abuse leaving them for dead. Then for the night, the group seek shelter on a house that is the only one around. But when the family realise that they were the ones that hurt their daughter, they plan a brutal and bloody revenge on them all. It's up there with Eden Lake (a film I can never see again as it seriously damaged me after seeing it) and The Strangers (ditto) for being a truely horrid ride. It has a slow start but once it gets going, you want it to have a sort of happy ending. I warn you if you want to see this, it's not for the faint hearted and people who don't like blood or disturbing movies. But if you can stomach it, check it out. It's lead with a little known cast but they play their parts well, it has also a great picture and sound on Blu-Ray.
on 7 October 2009
The title The Last House On The Left has particular resonance for British horror fans. Until very recently Wes Craven's cult classic 1972 original remained unavailable in it's uncut form having been one of the many films to fall victim of the notorious video nasties debacle of the 1980s. Craven's Last House On The Left - 3 Disc Ultimate Edition (Uncut)  [DVD] was a film that divided critical opinion with some critics praising it's unflinching analysis and depiction of violence and it's results (inspired by Craven's disgust at the sanitised news reports of real life violence in Vietnam), while others saw it as merely low budget exploitation trash.
Loosely inspired by Ingmar Bergman's 1960 arthouse classic The Virgin Spring  [DVD] (itself based on a 13th century Swedish ballad named Töres dotter i Wänge) the film tells the story of two young girls who are abducted, raped and murdered by a gang who are on the run. When their car breaks down the gang unwittingly seek refuge at a house belonging to the parents of one of their victims. As the narrative progresses the parents, after discovering their daughter's fate, take their brutal revenge.
With the spate of horror remakes that have been hitting our screens in recent years it is not surprising that story of The Last House On The Left is on our screens once again, what is surprising is that in many ways it surpasses the original - although once again such confrontational material has sharply divided opinion.
Produced by Wes Craven and directed by Dennis Iliadis, the remake takes the key elements of the original and effectively reworks them to startling effect. Rather than follow the route of other recent horror remakes by using flashy music video style editing The Last House On The Left takes it's time to build up it's characters, also favouring long takes to build suspense rather than relying on jump cuts. The ever reliable John Murphy contributes an excellent score, and the cast all turn in performances of a quality that is completely unexpected in a horror remake.
The narrative has been changed in a number of ways that reduce the sheer nihilistic bleakness of the original, but the changes do not detract from the overall shocking effect - although a short postscript involving a microwave does threaten to destabilise the taught narrative that has preceeded it.
It should be emphasised that this film, like the original, is not meant to entertain but to raise questions about our individual capacity for violence and the thin veil of respectability and control that prevents the vast majority of us from acting on our worse impulses. The film's challenge (and tagline), "If bad people hurt someone you love, how far would you go to hurt them back?" is one that each viewer must confront when viewing this disturbing and thought provoking film.
THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is a remake of the previously banned horror classic from the 70s with the same name which was from masters of the genre Wes Craven (SCREAM, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) and Sean Cunningham (FRIDAY THE 13TH). It begins when a family visit their summer home and on the first evening, the daughter Mary goes to town to visit her friend Paige. The girls meet a guy named Justin who invites them to his motel room to get high. When they get there they meet his father and his friends who are ruthless murderers on the run from the police. To keep them quiet they torture them in the woods.
I wasn't much of a fan of the original as it had a pretty low budget, bad acting and a terrible script so I watched this with low expectations and was surprised that this was actually a really good horror. For a start, I had literally no idea where this film was going as within about 45 minutes, the brutal torture scenes appeared to be over and I really did wonder what else they could do. Fortunately this was just where the film begins as from this point it got very good indeed (I won't spoil it for anyone who is yet to see it). The story was very well written with a great script and a lot of surprising twists. The special effects were very realistic, making this quite disturbing to watch at certain points. The acting was impressive from the whole cast - the family in particular were all very believable and played their parts well. This is without a doubt one of the best horror remakes I have seen - everything about it is just so well done and had me sitting on the edge of seat from start to finish. A recommended viewing for any horror fan - a solid 4 star rating.
on 24 July 2014
So, where to start on this one ?
Seen it around a few times, bit bored (yeah, you'd have to be) so finally decided to give it a watch. I wonder in what way one could NOT be disappointed in this movie.
If you want gore, frankly, it's pretty feeble. If you like swearing, it's got that in spades. If you want mindless violence, that's pretty lacking, too.
Nothing special was expected in the acting or plot, and nothing special was certainly delivered. I'm not disappointed that the much debated rape scene was barely post-TV watershed stuff. I was disappointed by the childishly gory last scene, when the opportunity for a much better and WAY nastier ending had been set up. Using that opportunity properly might have raised it to three stars, and failing can't automatically reduce it to one star, as it is all so feeble.
But, being so feeble, yes, one star only. It's pathetic.
This is a remake of the Wes Craven's low budget 1972 cult favorite of the same name. I saw the original, and despite its low budget values, replete with grainy film images and bad acting, it was one of the most horrifying and brutal films that I had ever seen. Of course, the reality is that the crimes that were perpetrated in that film were just that, and, consequently, it remains one of the most frightening and shocking films to date. It was truly chilling. When I saw that there had been a remake, I would curious to see how it would compare. I would have to say that in the shock and awe department, the original still holds sway. Still, the remake is an excellent film and, though brutal, somehow less frightening.
The storyline is every parent's worse nightmare. A teenager, Mari Collingwood, goes with her parents to their rural country house. She takes the family car to meet a friend in town. Unbeknownst to them, an escaped killer named Krug is on the loose with his rescuers. Mari and her friend hook up with a creepy but cute guy with whom they end up smoking weed with in his motel room. Then his father, his crazy girl-friend, and his uncle show up, and all hell breaks loose. They are none other than the escaped killer and his rescuers. Clearly, they are not going to let these two girls walk away. What happens next will chill the viewer.
This gritty and raw film has excellent production values, good cinematography, and the cast is a definite an improvement over that in the original. The controversial rape scene is brutal but probably mirrors the reality of such a crime, and the reality of it ain't pretty. Garret Dillahunt is definitely a standout as the ruthless escaped killer. Likewise Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter, and Sarah Paxton are also excellent as the beleaguered Collingwood family. Overall, it is a remake that stands up well to the original, as well as on its own merits. Although the film is very similar to the original, there are some differences, though in the long run, these differences do not really make or break this film of a family fighting to survive under circumstances most of us would prefer not to think about. Word to the wise: this film is definitely not for the squeamish or faint of heart.
on 2 March 2015
You’ll be very much mistaken if you think that The Last House On The Left is a kitchen sink drama played out on a terraced row in a northern town, although a kitchen sink does play an important role in one particularly unpleasant scene. In fact, this is a film which focuses on unpleasantness, for no other reason than that it can. I’ve not seen Wes Craven’s original but I am aware that it has been highly acclaimed. Not so this remake, which is generally ill-acclaimed, and rightly so.
I imagine that Craven’s version made some useful points about the lengths that ordinary, decent people will go to in order to protect their families from hooligans and it probably asked some interesting questions regarding cinema voyeurism. I would also guess that the team involved in this remake would argue similar motives but if so, they are only fooling themselves. While the extended rape scene and murder which sets up the subsequent events is uncomfortable to watch and is designed to instil a murderous hatred into the audience (and so fuel its desire to see some kind of retribution metered out), it doesn’t work on that level because the victim’s characters are poorly developed. Thus, it is difficult to really care. The leader of the gang is probably the most rounded character in the film and is smart and nasty, not a combination which you want to come face to face with.
The parents of the raped and shot girl, who are presumably at least fairly intelligent (the father is a doctor – see what they did there?), do come face to face with the gang and yet pull off some stupid moves which put them into further danger. Remember: if he goes down, make sure he stays down. Hitting someone with a fire extinguisher ought to sort that one out but here it doesn’t – these guys really must be boneheads. And of course, don’t turn your back on them. This is the kind of unimaginative screenwriting which I thought was reserved for Stupid Teens In The Woods Pursued By Raving Psychopath With Axe scenarios. But his is how it is and it is something of a shame that director Dennis Iliadis has gone to so much trouble to make his point but ultimately fails to make any point at all because the end result is more than just a little silly.
If you’re looking for something a little more cerebral, I would suggest Funny Games by Michael Haneke.
The ending manages to go well over the top but it does enable me to complete this review by saying that the events start with a whimper and end with a bang.
on 6 November 2011
As a fan of Wes Craven, and someone who's seen the Original that this is based on, I was interested to see what they'd done with it. I'm glad to say it's a mainly positive mixture of some good and some bad.
Craven's early period was always a weird mix of horror brilliance and distasteful mis-steps - while all of it stuck in the brain, not all of it was necessary or wise. There's a reason the original 'Last House' had a bad reputation as an overly distasteful horror, and it was deserved to some extent. However - horror is meant to push boundaries and shock. Great horror does both.
This remake is just 'good' horror.
Largely following the original's storyline, two friends stop off to buy weed (this time from Spencer Treat Clark's weird but sympathetically likeable 'Justin') and end up trapped and tormented by a small gang of very unpleasant criminals led by cinema's 'go-to psycho' Garrett Dillahunt as Krug. (Dillahunt's initial escape from custody is a high point of drama).
When their escape plan with the kidnapped girls goes awry and they end up trapped in the woods, the girls are tormented and assaulted by the gang in a lengthy sequence. Sara Paxton in particular (as 'Mari')deserves kudos for some very convincing acting during what many viewers will find a harrowing sequence.
I won't give away what happens (fans of the original will already vaguely know) but the criminals end up trying to take refuge in a nearby home, which turns out to be the holiday home of one of the girl's family.
It's not long before the parents realise the people staying in their guest house are the worst house-guests possible, and turn vengeful with carnage-filled results.
This remake makes several decisions which make it better and worse than the original.
Worse: The fate of one of the girls is altered in a way that adds tension but feels like a typical 'Hollywood-machine' softening of the the original. Also some of the groundbreaking violence of the original's revenge moments has been replaced with less offensive (but still gruesome) alternatives.
Better: The girls are more likeable, the parents are better acted and their relationship with their daughter is more convincing. Some of the 'would you really do that?' violence has been removed (see 'worse' - it's a mixed bag), and the weird kind-of fan-worship moment where Krug and his gang are almost lionised with their own oddly cringe-inducing song has been removed.
The character interaction is good, and the tension is built in a very effective way, with some sequences truly exciting or frightening. It does feel like a more smoothe-edged and Hollywood version, but it also benefits from better scripting and production than the original because of this.
As a result, I'd recommend taking it as its own movie - not so much a remake as a 'companion piece'. Fans of Craven's jagged edged remake might be enraged by the changes. Fans of everyday current studio horror will just think it's a rather extreme but perfectly enjoyable horror movie.