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The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest

Hell Plaza Oktoberfest III

Adam Jahnke - Main Page

The Last House on the Left: Unrated

The Last House on the Left: Unrated
2009 - Rogue Pictures/Universal Home Entertainment
Released on DVD on August 18th, 2009
Also available on Blu-ray Disc

Remakes have become so depressingly common lately that it's difficult to be surprised when one is announced. More often than not, I just shrug my shoulders and sigh, "I wondered when they'd be getting around to that one." But even this jaded horror fan had to raise an eyebrow when a remake of Wes Craven's first film, 1972's The Last House on the Left, was released earlier this year. Craven's movie is brutal, sadistic, disturbing, and leaves many viewers wanting to take a shower. A glossy, studio-financed remake of this made about as much sense as a re-imagining of I Spit on Your Grave with Megan Fox.

As in the original (itself a redux of Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring), two teenage girls are abducted by a quartet of sleazy fugitives led by a psycho named Krug (played here by Garret Dillahunt). The girls are put through all kinds of hell, tortured, raped and eventually left for dead. Unlike the first movie, this time one of the girls (Sara Paxton) barely survives and makes it back home. But the bad guys have already arrived, taken in by the girl's parents during a torrential storm. Once they realize who's staying in the guest house, mom and dad (Monica Potter and Tony Goldwyn) fight back.

I'm sure no one will be surprised to hear that the violence level in the remake is considerably toned down, although the question of what exactly constitutes a more tasteful rape scene is open to debate. But other changes are more subtle and detrimental. For instance, the titular house is now a summer vacation home, not the family's permanent residence. Beside the fact that the title now makes no sense (it's not the last house on the left, it's the only damn house!), we're now seeing a movie that's as much about class as anything else. The original film had a sense of moral ambiguity lacking in the remake. Their daughter dead, the parents decide to actively seek revenge. Now, we're seeing wealthy people whose actions can easily be justified as self-defense. We do witness one act of premeditated revenge at the very end but it's so laughably stupid that it comes across as a weak punchline more than a taboo-shattering shock.

Universal's DVD looks surprisingly good. Colors are rich, although details like the incessant rain are a bit soft. The audio quality is equally impressive but if you're looking for extra features, you'll be disappointed. The disc does include both the theatrical and unrated versions of the movie (the unrated one is about four minutes longer). Other than that, all you get are a few deleted scenes and a ridiculously bad Inside Look featurette that features Wes Craven, producer Sean Cunningham and director Dennis Iliadis in full-court press PR mode. Your yawns are both forgivable and expected.

I'm not a huge fan of Craven's original Last House on the Left. I think it's unpleasantly exploitative and full of missteps, including some truly dreadful music, that undermine the story's horrific potential. It certainly leaves room for improvement but Iliadis' remake doesn't find it. Whether you love or hate the original movie, you certainly remember it afterwards. Last House '09 is dull, drab and ultimately pointless. There's very little here that will stick with you. Fainting will probably not be a major concern but to avoid falling asleep, keep repeating, "It's only a remake. It's only a remake."

Film Rating: C-
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B+/D

Adam Jahnke

Adam Jahnke - Main Page
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