Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Garret Dillahunt, Michael Bowen, Sara Paxton, Joshua Cox
Directed by Dennis Iliadis
Distributed by Universal Home Video
How in the world do your remake the Wes Craven classic The Last House on the Left (review here)? And even if you tried, how could it possibly work? Those were two questions I had ringing in my ears when this Dennis Iliadis helmed flick was first announced. The mere thought of it had me quaking in my boots. Surprisingly enough, despite dropping the ball a few times (especially at the end, which I’ll get to later), Iliadis mostly pulls it off. Yes, stranger things have indeed happened.
The storyline is basically exactly the same. After raping and brutalizing two teenage girls who were just looking to smoke some pot and have a good time, a troupe of lowlifes end up taking shelter at the home of one of the girls that they’ve … to put it nicely … had their way with. Of course throughout the course of the evening the parents find out about what took place not too far away from their home in the woods and decide to exact a little parental revenge by way of all sorts of things including, but not limited to, household appliances. Hey, you saw the trailer. I’m not spoiling anything so don’t look at me that way.
Remarkably enough, even though Iliadis’ film is a far cry from Craven’s exploitation make-you-feel-dirty fest, it still packs about the same punch as the original did in certain areas, especially during the rape scene. Though nowhere near as graphic, the same amount of tragedy and monumental disgust for the characters is conveyed by a smart and more minimalist approach to the act. Dillahunt’s portrayal of the psycho filthbag Krug is for the most part spot on, and his entire crew is pretty damned scary.
Yet, things are far from perfect and end up leaning toward the more cliché side of the fence. Things get a little too cat-and-mousy during the third act with lots of hide-and-seek played with the characters and the audience. This ultimately ends up taking you right out of the film due in part to the predictability of these moments. Speaking of getting snapped out of the film … The ending. Holy shit. Whose idea was this? The film goes from plausible to “Are you fucking kidding me?” in an instant. Anyone who has seen the aforementioned trailer knows that there comes a moment in the flick when good old Dad sticks a bound Krug’s head into a microwave for a little electric fun. You’ll wait the whole movie for this moment, and when it finally comes, it happens during what I can only assume was a flashback at the very end of the film. Considering what has come before it, this is just plain goofy and feels so ridiculously tacked-on that you can’t help but leave the experience with a giant WTF? balloon floating over your head. Seriously dumb, guys. *shakes head*
As for the new cut being unrated, we get about four minutes of extra stuff that ranges from a bit more exposition to a couple of better looks at the carnage. Nice to see but nothing to write home about.
In terms of picture and audio quality, it almost feels pointless to convey the message that yes, the Blu-ray looks and sounds better than the DVD. If you have the tech, high-def is easily the way to go. Every gory and disturbing moment is presented in stunning detail and further brings you into this nightmare world coupled with the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. We’re talking really good stuff here, people. There’s no question. Universal knows how to do Blu. They’ve got it wired.
One area in which the DVD more than holds its own, though, is the disc’s special features. Other than being BD-Live enabled, the Blu-ray edition of The Last House on the Left is home to the same exact special features found on its standard definition cousin. There’s just one problem. What’s here pretty much sucks. Surprisingly all we get is a nine-minute reel of wisely deleted scenes (presented in both packages in standard def) and a three-minute inside look with Wes Craven. Wow. Really? Not even a featurette? Color me stymied.
In the end what we have here is a fairly mediocre package for a movie that deserved a bit better. Of the two incarnations of this tale, I’ve gotta say the remake is a bit more watchable … but it’s definitely not better.
3 1/2 out of 5
2 out of 5
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