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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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor
Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.
On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.
The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.
While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.
What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.
While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.
IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.
The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell
Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law
Directed by John Law
I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.
The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.
The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.
The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.
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