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The Last House On The Left

The Last House On The Left

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

DENNIS Iliadis’ remake of Wes Craven’s notorious rape-revenge thriller The Last House On The Left is as brutally efficient as we’ve come to expect from the remake culture but it still begs the obvious question: is it really necessary?

What’s more, it speaks volumes for how far horror has come given that the ’72 version remained banned in the UK for years, whereas this latest version waltzed through the censors with just an 18 certificate.

The plot remains essentially the same. Two teenage girls, Mari (Sara Paxton) and Paige (Martha MacIsaac), have the misfortune of crossing paths with escaped convict Krug (Garrett Dillahunt) and his accomplices, before being led to the woods to be raped and left for dead.

Krug’s gang subsequently and unwittingly seek refuge in the home of Mari’s parents (played by Monica Potter and Tony Goldwyn), only to find themselves at the mercy of the parents once their atrocities have been discovered.

According to where you stand, Craven’s original was either a cinema and video nasty that should never have been made, or a provocative take on attitudes towards violence that made viewers feel uncomfortable while asking them difficult questions.

Iliades’ version is more intent on crowd-pleasing, with the revenge element providing viewers plenty to cheer at the expense of almost cheapening what has come to pass before.

The rape scene, in particular, is as unflinching as we’ve come to expect in the modern era, as well as horrifically realistic, but much of what follows conforms to a cartoon element with the deaths becoming ever more gory and unrealistic.

Fortunately, Iliades refrains from OTT Hostel-style atrocity and refuses to make things as unrelentingly downbeat as the original, but his attempts to crowd-please merely raise more questions of taste.

Are audiences really expected to “enjoy” this type of drama, rather than being appalled by it in the final analysis? And is rape, murder, mutilation and revenge the stuff of popcorn cinema?

Performance-wise, the cast take it seriously and compensate for some of the shortcomings (with Dillahunt and Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul making the biggest impressions), but in all other respects this feels like yet another pointless remake that brings nothing new to the genre save for further debates over the validity of such films in the first place.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 109mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: October 19, 2009