The Last House on the Left (2009)
By: J.R. McNamara on October 12, 2009  | 
Roadshow (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0, English Audio Descriptive 2.0. English (FHI) Subtitles. 108 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Dennis Iliadis
Starring: Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter, Garret Dillahunt, Aaron Paul, Spencer Treat Clark
Screenplay: Adam Alleca, Carl Ellsworth
Country: USA
External Links
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The way I feel about remakes is the same as the way I feel about ANY film. If I like it, I like it, if I don't, I don't. I don't see the point in complaining about a film unless I have seen it, and let's face it - sure there have been some remakes that sucked, but there have also been plenty of original movies that sucked as well.

Sure there are some films that don't need to be remade, but when I see that film, I'll judge it on its own merits, instead of comparing it to its predecessor.

Well, I'll certainly try to, anyway.

If there were ever a film I did not think I would see remade, it would be this one: The Last House on the Left. The original, which was written by Wes Craven, and was itself a kind of a remake (based on the 1960 film Jungfrukallan by Ingmar Bergman) was banned in Australia for 28 years and was labelled a video nasty in the UK, so I imagine the idea of remaking it was more for the notoriety of the name.

The Last House on the Left tells the story of Mari (Sara Paxton) and her friend Paige (Martha MacIsaac) who decide to go with attractive stranger Justin (Spencer Treat Clark) his motel room and load up on some good ol' maryjane.

Unfortunately for the girls, some of Justin's family turn up. His father, Krug (Garrett Dillahunt), his Uncle Frank (Aaron Paul) and their female associate Sadie (Riki Lindhome). Sadie and Frank have, as we saw in a prologue, just rescued Krug from gaol and we have also learned that they rate very low on the 'nice people scale'.

So being on the lam, and now with some attractive young hostages, they take Mari's car, until Mari chooses to take things into her own hands. She attacks Sadie, and causes the car to crash, and then the gang turn on them. They brutally kill Paige, and rape Mari, who then attacks Krug, and is shot as she attempts to escape.

Now without a vehicle to aid their escape, the gang find themselves at a house just as a storm starts - the house belonging to Mari's parents. Soon, Justin becomes aware of whose house they are staying at and he panics, but his troubles aren't over.

Mari's tenacity proves to be her salvation, and she manages to swim the lake (her skill being that of a champion swimmer) and crawl through the woods back to her parents. As soon as Mari's parents John (Tony Goldwyn) and Emma (Monica Potter) become aware of whom and what they have invited to stay at their guest house until the rain subsides... well, let's just say that vengeance is rarely a pretty thing.

Straight away I have to give Sara Paxton some props. For a girl who has previously starred in movies about bitchy teenagers and mermaids, it was an incredibly bold and surprising role, which she really excelled at. These two girls were not your typical dumb movie teens, they were played just as any teenage girl seen anywhere, and played well. Potter and Goldwyn's acting skills as both the bereaved and the angels of vengeance are amazing as well.

Having said that, the bad guys were played to great effect also: though full of false bravado after any act of violence, they certainly primarily seem to regret any trespass they initiated upon their hapless victims. This gang weren't just mindless charactures of killing machines, they felt real: their duplicity and avarice when encountering the parents was played brilliantly, as was their final realisation of just where they were. The real drawback of their performances was that they are a good-looking bunch of scumbags, and it just felt a little more difficult to believe that such Hollywood types could be so despicable. Thankfully their acting abilities managed to overcome that.

The director, Dennis Iliadis did a spectacular job of this film, and while occasionally there were a few Hollywoody hamfisted moments ('Oh gee, the microwave is broken.... I wonder if THAT will come up again later') the whole thing rang true. I felt all of the anger that Potter and Goldwyn's characters felt, as well as the satisfaction of retribution. The action was hard-hitting and the violence was also a pleasant surprise. This film could have very easily been a flaccid version of the story, but it maintained nastiness throughout.

While this film doesn't deliver the absolute filth of the original.... sorry, the comparison has arrived... it still packs an awesome punch to the stomach, and is not just one of the better remakes I have seen in the past ten years, it is also one of the better films I have seen in that same time. Thankfully there are some sillier elements from the original that are not present in this one, and they are not missed. I feel that both this and the original can comfortable sit side by side on my DVD shelf.
This film is presented in widescreen 16:9 and even though a lot of the film takes place in the dark, during a storm, at no time does it become unclear. Great image all over.
A lush Dolby Digital 5.1 track that actually made me think the thunder of the storm in the film was outside my own house.
Extra Features
For starters, this disc does something that I find quite a despicable act by the producers of DVDs. It starts the disc with trailers for other films, instead of having them as selectable features from the menu. If I want to watch the trailers for your other pathetic movies, trust me, I'll select them from the menu, otherwise I am not interested!! The films forced down your throats here are Adventureland, Fanboys and The Grudge 3. I admit you CAN skip over them, but I shouldn't have to!

Very few extras on this disc, just a few deleted scenes, which the movie didn't miss, although the alternate 'head blowing up ' was cool, and a featurette called 'A Look Inside' which discusses the remake with producers Sean Cunningham and Wes Craven and director Dennis Iliadis. Unfortunately it goes for about 2 minutes and is, at the end of the day, worthless.
The Verdict
I am not sure if it is correct to say I enjoyed this film, but I did. This update of a horror classic is soundly written, directed and acted. Top stuff.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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