The Last House On The Left (2009)

Remaking such an infamous cult classic is either a really brave or a really stupid thing to do. Having watched 2009’s The Last House On The Left, I’m inclined to think it’s possibly a combination of the two.

My expectations for this film were pretty low to begin with and shockingly, it still didn’t quite meet them. The story remains intact with only very minor changes; two girls are kidnapped by a gang of ruffians and subjected to torture and rape before being offed. The gang, finding themselves stranded, seek refuge in a nearby house which happens to be inhabited by one of the victims parents. The parents, realising who they are, take the opportunity to exact revenge for their daughters death. Wait, did I say death? Oh yeah, that’s right, their daughter doesn’t die and therein lies the movie’s biggest problem.

Like so many big budget Hollywood horror remakes that claim to be every bit as nasty and savage as the original, this one doesn’t come close. The whole thing looks so glossy; the production values are too high and the gore is far too tame and just can’t quite match the originals’ brutality. Wussing out by allowing the couples daughter to survive, rids the audience of any innate need to sympathise with them whilst carrying out their impetuous vigilante justice and therefore strips the film of its ‘emotional gut punch’ effect.

The deaths simply aren’t imaginative enough, and despite the sheer length and gratuity of the rape scene, it is merely uncomfortable viewing rather than being emotionally wrenching. The original had it’s fair share of implausible moments but it wasn’t until watching the remake that I found myself disbelieving the high number of unlikely coincidences and this, to me at least, only served to further rob the movie of more of it’s potential emotional depth.

Dennis Iliadis is a newcomer, not only to the genre, but to directing in general and it’s painfully obvious. He’s managed to construct what seems like a wilfully derivative film that plays on every movie cliché and convention in the book.

The acting though, is superior, but our group of antagonists fail to show the required complete lack of compassion and feeling. They are shown to be a tight-knit bunch whereas David Hess’s original band of villains were quite clearly out for themselves and not each other. The girls, particularly Sara Paxton, are adept at maintaining the required amount of abject terror but even that can’t save the film from being distinctly average.

Had it not been for the final scene, I may have deigned to give this flick an extra half a star but it was so ruinous to everything that preceded it that I just couldn’t bring myself to. Not only do the last couple of minutes feel tacked-on and extraneous, it’s also entirely out of character, not to mention the events are a complete physical impossibility. I can only assume that filming had been completed and the financial department declared they had extra funds to waste on an incongruous spectacle of a finale.

All in all, this film lacked its predecessors sheer visceral feel and barbaric nature, and the air of menace that ran throughout. Instead we are treated to a series of obviously studio-produced set pieces that never quite get the pulse racing. There were too few scares and too many survivors. Watch the original and discard this pretty but essentially empty piece of expensive but throwaway, exploitation cinema.

You can read the Gorepress review for the original movie here

Rating: ★★★★½☆☆☆☆☆

2 Comments on “The Last House On The Left”

  1. David Scullion says:

    Bang on review – that ending was an incongruous, utterly pointless piece of shite. Jesus, what were they thinking?

  2. Arnie says:

    That ending made the science-geek in me rage.

    Not to mention the contradictory nature of it in general. Having gone to all that effort to save your precious daughter, taking the time to commit an elaborate vigilante torture-murder that will almost certainly result in you being locked up away from your beloved offspring seems a bit silly…

    By the way Dave, if you want a little avatar for your comments, just sign up at http://www.gravatar.com :)

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