Studio Name: Universal (Rogue Pictures)
MPAA Rating: R/Not Rated (Unrated version reviewed)
Disc/Transfer Information: 1080p High Definition; Widescreen 1.85:1
Tested Audio Track: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (Tested at core DTS)
Director: Dennis Iliadis
Starring Cast: Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter
IF SOMEONE HURT SOMEONE YOU LOVE...
HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO GET REVENGE?
LoMANACO'S PLOT ANALYSIS:
I have come to accept that we're in the day and age of theatrical remakes -- but this didn't come easy, friends. I revolted against this for the longest time, coming from the film journalism school which taught that you don't mess with an original gem because just so much is simply lost in the re-imagining of the film. We've seen them crash and burn over the years in spades -- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror, House of Wax -- while some others managed to provide mild entertainment (Dawn of the Dead, House on Haunted Hill, Man on Fire, The Haunting). Some simply fall in the middle somewhere; titles that I'm still debating in terms of their homage to the originals like Friday the 13th and Rob Zombie's Halloween. But I should have placed the remake of Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes on the list of "good" remakes in that much like Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake, the setpieces, tension and action were simply taken to a new, modern level without really destroying any magic of the original. In taking a chance with another of Craven's classic cult favorites, Last House on the Left, Universal greenlighted a remake of the subtle-but-creepy rape/revenge story that made such hoopla when the original was released.
But why was the original so attention-sapping? Why was it labeled, in underground film circles, one of the most disturbing and graphic stories ever to be put on celluloid? I went back and rented the original Last House on the Left some months ago to anticipate the theatrical launch of the remake, which I didn't get to see in theaters, and I can recall finishing it with a bit of disappointment. For all its underground cult "warnings" about the violence and savage sex sequences, nothing was really shown that was too graphic at all. The score and horrendous acting in the original didn't help its case, either. Craven's original centers around two very young teens living in the upstate region of New York, one of whose parents live in a cabin all isolated up there. The girls want to go to a rock concert in the city, but before they get to the Big Apple, they are lured into what appears to be a Brooklyn, New York apartment by a creepy kid willing to sell them some dope. Once in there, they are surrounded and kidnapped by some group of freaks made up of two men and a weirdo chick that seems to get off on touching the young girls. From there, the action shifts back to the woods of upstate New York, where the gang drag the girls into the forest and the "Kruge" character brutally rapes one while forcing the two of them to kiss and make love -- but before your hormones go flying out of control, let me say that nothing is really "shown" in these scenes; they're more suggestive than anything. The real kicker of both versions of Last House on the Left is the fact that this gang ends up dragging the girls into the forest that happens to be just outside of where one of the girls' parents live -- and once inside their house and they are aware of what happened to their daughter, a sequence of revenge scenarios play out.
Enter 2008's The Last House on the Left. The film keeps in the style of Craven's original but makes some nicks and tucks to change the story a bit. Instead of having the group of killers and thieves who are on the run from the law crouching and hiding in some abandoned apartment, this new version opens with some cops taking one of the lunatics in to be arrested. The action has also shifted from New York to Washington in this one; obviously planning an escape heist, a van rams into the police car, killing the cops, but allowing the freak in the back seat to escape with his cohorts. Meanwhile, Tony Goldwyn plays the father of "Mary," who I believe was a character in the original, an 18 year old blonde who is friends with Paige, a brunette around the same age who works in a convenience store in this wooded Northwest town. Paige is the bubblier of the two, dressing provocatively in denim miniskirts and flashing the bigger breasts. Monica Potter (Con Air) turns in a performance as Mary's mother. Goldwyn is a doctor, and the three of them are living in a summer house in the woods. When Mary wants to see her friend Paige at her place of work, she takes her parents' Suburban and the scene is set for a remake of graphic proportions. The story has changed here from the original, in that instead of going to a concert, the girls meet up at Paige's store and then follow some creepy kid who comes in that promises to give them some good weed.
The two idiotic teens drive the kid to a nearby motel, where the three of them proceed to get high as kites while the two girls flirt with him. At that point, two scummy looking men and a demented chick come into the room, and we're introduced to the villains of the story. The "Kruge" character is reused from the original, as the leader of this sick gang and hunted killer; immediately, the group's intentions are made clear as the men surround the teen girls and feeling them up, while the sick woman that's with them does the same. Pleading that they won't tell anyone about their crime spree and escape to the group proves futile, as the girls are driven away from the motel in Mary's Suburban and towards the woods.
Paige attempts an escape from the truck by smashing a cigarette lighter in the back of the vehicle into the woman's face that’s busy running her hands all over her body, but even though this causes chaos and makes Kruge crash the truck into a tree, the girls don't yet escape. They are bound and beaten by the trio, and that's when the more graphic part of the film takes place. As I said with the original, not much was shown during these sequences -- and on the Unrated cut of the remake, not much more was shown in 2008. Paige and Mary wriggle around on the ground, screaming, crying and gasping, but the rape sequence between Kruge and Mary is turned up a notch or two -- it is definitely suggested, quite graphically in certain angles, that Kruge anally rapes Mary based on the fact that she is forced down, face front, into the mud where her bra and panties are slunk off, and Kruge is right on top of her, thrusting violently. The sequence is actually very disturbing -- much more so than what was "suggested" in the original -- but it's not so over-the-top that it would make this a genuine "rape/torture/revenge" underground horror gross-out gem.
LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT REVIEW CONTINUED BELOW...