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IN SHORT: brutal horror flick. [Rated R for sadistic brutal violence including a rape and disturbing images, language, nudity and some drug use.100 minutes]
The Last House on the Left was writer/director Wes Craven's first feature film, back in 1972. With his blessings and support, Craven's original, itself inspired by the Ingmar Bergman film Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring), in turn based upon the medieval Swedish ballad“Töres dotter i Wänge” (“Töre’s Daughter in Vänge”) -- lots of meat for film students to do elaborate grad school thesis papers on -- has been brought into the "modern error," meaning it is pretty much the kind of raw steak thet most newbie horror filmmakers yearn to chew on.
Of course, a helluva lot in any remake depends on the makeup, gore team and stunt squads. Eye gouging, knife stabbing, gun shot wounds and various other imaginative ways to do harm to the human body don't come cheap, Let's start at the very beginning:
Convicted psychokiller named Krug (Garret Dillahunt), sitting in the back seat of a police cruiser, is on his way to the big lockup that he'll never see. That's because he is "rescued" by his gang of thug-mates: a sociopath (and bisexual!) girlfriend Sadie (Riki Lindhome); his psychokiller biological brother Francis (Aaron Paul), and one more who we'll reveal later. Beware of the lady. She's anything but. Utterly devoted to Krug, Sadie is flat out psycho and will kill at the drop of a hat, if need be . . . Not that anyone wears hats anymore. We'll not provide details of the "rescue". We'll only say that if you make it through the film's first sequence, you'll be fine for the rest of the thing. We, on the other hand, were on the verge of walking out -- it would only be the second time in fifteen years of reviewing. Not because of anything in the film particularly. We lived the auto accident/ bashed head/ broken neck thing in real life and certain well buried personal things deep down in our persona need to stay well buried. We managed it. Onwards to our lucky, lucky victims . . .
Those would be two: the sexy and seventeen Mari Collingwood (Sara Paxton), who goes into town to hang with her BFF Paige (Martha MacIsaac). Paige has a job at the town grocery and, just as she is ready to close up, an obviously underaged teen in a hoodie, Justin (Spencer Treat Clark) wanders in and tries to buy cigarettes. "No deal, kiddo," says the law abiding Paige. Justin answers with something like "What if I swap you for some incredibly potent herb of the marijuana variety, which I just happen to have back at my conveniently close motel room ... ?"
Sure, that description could be adapted from "The 100 Best Set Ups for Porn Movies," though anyone expecting any kind of sexual rush from any moment in Last House on the Left -- and there are more than enough opportunities to be flashing boobies in the film, none of which are taken -- is going to be disappointed. Those who get a rush from seemingly mindless brutality, rampant misogyny should be delighted. They should also seek professional help.
Seriously. Not more than twenty four hours before seeing this film, Cranky was asked if, in the fifteen years of writing these reviews, he had ever walked out of a screening, The honest answer was "once". Within the first five minutes of Last House on the Left, that number almost -- repeat, almost -- rose to two. If you make it through those first five minutes -- trust us, you'll know exactly what we mean when you see it -- the rest of the film is a bloody cakewalk.
Things get nasty when Krug, Francis and Sadie return unexpectedly to their motel room. Justin, the shy and passive son of con, wasn't expecting dad and friends to return when he invited the girls to party (such as it may have been). Being that all four of 'em were newspaper page one Wanted Felons, leader Krug deems it necessary to dispose of the ladies. But how to do it; where to do it and can we get some significant rape time in on the way? Mari, the smart one, gets the thugs to drive into a wooded area near her summer home and manages to escape the moving car. Paige tries to follow but is held back. Net result is that everyone heads into the woods for chasing and beating and hurting and rape stabbing and random brutality -- even the bad guys get banged up -- and more chasing and ... gee, look at that! a house!
The thugs knock at the door with their best Sunday smiles on their faces. "Pardon us, ma'am and sir," they say,"there's been an accident and we sure could use some help." That explains why Francis is all broke up, and is sure lucky that there a doctor in the house! It's also lucky that their daughter had called to say she was staying the night with her best friend so the guest house just happens to be available for the night.
Well, of course it just happens to be Mari's house. Duh. And, of course, much later in the evening, when the bruised and battered form of their beloved daughter crawls onto the porch in the dead of night, parental units John (Tony Goldwyn) and Emma (Monica Potter) are forced into the battle, to rescue their baby, defend their homestead and utterly defeat the invaders.
Those not able to lock down the functions of the lower parts of the digestive system should not enter the theater. Those who tend to lean towards the squeamish should likewise stay away. "Brutal" is just another word. Even knowing that all the action is carefully choreographed effects work won't help. Only the kiddos who love the disgusting and all things which make us old farts squirm should lay down their cash.
That means The Last House on the Left will probably be top box office this weekend.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Last House on the Left, he would have paid . . .
$0.00 [horror nutzoids would go at least $7/8]
Because I'm too damned old for these things. Those in the proper (legal) teen/twenty something audience who "apreciate" the "art" of these films, at least, cheered when the bad guys finally got their comeuppances. And there was scattered applause when it was done. But there wasn't enough to clue us in as to whether the clap was for the film or for the film being over.
Aside from the fact that the brutality and violence are both repulsive and edge-of-your-seat compelling (trust us, Cranky's kidneys were going bananas as, even amidst all the violence, some tidbit having something to do with the stoy came leaking through. Only when we were on the verge of leaking our self did we pop out for two minutes..) the violence and brutality in the film is both transfixing and repulsive. We got an unlimited use rental on the words "repulsive" and "brutality". Again, if you did this stuff, you'll did this thing.
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