Wes Craven should phone his lawyers.
Reportedly, Chaos started life as a Last House on the Left redux under the title The House in the Middle of Nowhere with the creative involvement of original cast members David Hess and Marc Sheffler. Enter Harvard grad/producer Steven Jay Bernheim, who decided to fire them and sever all ties with the original film (aside from the derivative screenplay, tagline, and entire marketing campaign). Passing itself off as being “based on an original idea,” the end result is not only a totally amateurish attempt at grindhouse cinema but possibly the single worst case of celluloid plagiarism in history.
Aside from a few minor details Chaos is a carbon copy of Craven’s classic (itself a spin on Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring) and more imitative than any remake could possibly be. The story blindly goes through the motions as two party girls fall into the clutches of a sadistic gang and are brutally tortured and killed … yet again. In fact, the only thing not derived from Last House is the inclusion of a new twist ending so moronic, it almost makes you wish the filmmakers didn’t try to think up more ideas for themselves.
Other than a few realistic gore scenes, Chaos is poorly executed through and through. While we get a decent performance from lead actor Kevin Gage, the rest of the cast sleepwalk through their roles (many of them were forced to continue work on the film out of contractual obligations and have since distanced themselves from the final product). Not that they have much to work with anyway: The killers are written as laughable hick stereotypes, and the two vapid girls are so annoying, you’ll beg for their torture long before it begins.
To add insult to injury, writer/director David “The Demon” DeFalco (*snicker*) and Bernheim are trying to sell this to fans as “the most disturbing movie ever made.” In what is probably the most pathetic attempt at hyperbole, the official website (which feels more like the duo’s shrine of self-worship) contains a list of “shocking facts” about the film, which are little more than shoddy attempts to stir up debate. This lame attempt at exhibitionism completely invalidates the film’s opening crawl, which informs us that Chaos is a really a cautionary tale “designed to educate and save lives.” Yeah, right!
Worse yet, DeFalco and Bernheim are completely oblivious as to what made Last House so successful. Craven’s original was very much a product of the times, a symbolic reaction to the Vietnam War, America’s social changes, and the death of the flower generation. Unlike post-9/11 horror films Land of the Dead and The Devil’s Rejects, Chaos adds absolutely nothing new to the table and focuses all its energy on crafting violence. And while the filmmakers may try to cook up excuses (as they did in a recent letter to Roger Ebert), they’re forgetting one simple thing: Violence in itself does not automatically make a statement. Especially when you rip it from another film.
I won’t mince words: Chaos is so hackneyed it’s an insult to the horror genre and its fans. No charade will mask the fact that this is nothing more than a brain dead film in pursuit of controversy. Sorry, Mr. DeFalco. You’re not a demon and your movie isn’t dangerous. You aren’t fooling anyone.
Starring Kevin Gage, Stephen Wozniak, Kelly K.C. Quann, Sage Stallone, Chantal Degroat
Directed by David DeFalco
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