The Last House on the Left – Movie Review

The Last House on the Left – Movie Review

Sometimes a trailer is released for a film that is absolutely spellbinding. The most recent one was for the remake of Wes Craven’s 1972 cult classic, The Last House on the Left. Bearing the same title the film was proud to boast that it was both sadistic and cruel. The talk of a small scale horror masterpiece began. Directed by Dennis Iliadis – who also helmed a lesser known 2004 Greek film entitled Hardcore – so to American audiences, it was nothing more than another horror remake. If anyone here has ever had the chance of seeing Iliadis’ Hardcore, then you would be in agreement that the film was going to be nothing like the typical horror remake. What my primary concern with the film was is that Iliadis might butcher the original content like Marcus Nispel did with his The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. The original Tobe Hooper film (of the same title) was a perfect exercise in raw brutality and sadism. The scene at the dinner table is one of the most chilling to ever grace the silver screen. What Nispel wound up doing could be labeled as “raping the source.” Not only did he get rid of some of the original’s pivotal moments, but he even altered some of the scenes to be more pleasing to the modern day audience. The original was clearly fine as it was if someone felt the need to re-invent it, so why bother messing with it? Iliadis took the hint and unlike Nispel, embraced the source material.

The Last House on the Left centers on a young woman named Mari (Sara Paxton) that is brutally raped and left for dead by a group of maniacal killers, Krug (Garret Dillahunt), Francis (Aaron Paul), Sadie (Riki Lindhome) and Justin (Spencer Treat Clark) . Although the premise may sound somewhat reminiscent of other horror films, the execution is unlike anything you have seen before. Within the film’s opening moments a brutal murder is committed. The scene is slightly disturbing and unrelenting in its vision of gritty realism. The film grabs hold of the viewer and refuses to let go until the end credits. When Mari arrives in a picturesque lakeside town with her father John (Tony Goldwyn) and her mother Emma (Monica Potter) the film focuses on the relationship the family has. A passed away son is hinted at giving the mother reasoning for her massive concern of Mari. As the film progresses, no light is shed on any other past events, no sub-plots are created; the only focus is on the brutality approaching.

To say that this film is non-enjoyable is an understatement. This truly is a film that if anyone were to find any sense of enjoyment out of it would need to have some sort of sickness. Not only do the characters toy with the characters in the film, but also the viewers in the theater. The film caused some of the most interesting reactions I have seen in a theater. At the beginning of the film, the theater was nearly full, by the end credits, it was barely half full. People were appalled, disturbed, sickened, thrilled, intrigued and ultimately fully invested in the turn out of the film. There was cheering, laughing, crying, screaming, etc. It seemed as if the audience had just as much to lose as the characters did. For a film to have such an effect on its audience, it more than fulfilled its purpose. After the long and unflinching rape scene, the tension of the film only escalates. Your nails will dig into the seats as you hold yourself down anticipating what could possibly happen to the family or the killers.

One theme that I found to be interesting was the morality of man. As the film’s tagline boasts, “If bad people hurt someone you love, how far would you go to hurt them back?” Just like Gasper Noe’s 2002 New French Extremity film, Irreversible, the idea of vengeance comes into play. Even though Krug raped the Mari, do the mother and father have the right to do whatever they wish to him? Should any human have that right? Just like Krug and his friends, the morality of the mother and father slowly fades away as they delve to the same depths that the aforementioned reside in. The film could be somewhat classified as an exhibition of transgressive art. The shock value of the film is at times highly offensive and extremely unsettling. While most will leave the film seeing it as something terrible due to all of the content, hopefully a few will pick up the questions it raises. One of my friends even claimed to have sympathized for the killers when they receive their own fates. When I asked him why that was, he replied stating that, “It was just a natural reaction. When you see something so horrid being done to another human, you can’t help but feel bad.” Do the killers even deserve sympathy after the numerous murders and rapes they had committed? It is arguable, but like my friend said, it will all depend on how you react. Some will condemn, some will cheer on.

Regardless of the film’s debatable content and under the surface questions, it is an above average horror film. It resides as one of the better remakes of the decade and is able to provoke the audience in such ways that only a handful of other films have (See: Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom OR Funny Games). It will easily push the audience into submission and make them beg for mercy. No one is left unscathed at The Last House on the Left.

Movie Rating: 7.5/10