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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Last House on the Left (2009)


Starring: Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter, Garret Dillahunt and Spencer Treat Clark
Universal Pictures UK
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 18
Available 19 October 2009

A well-to-do couple and their teenage swimming protege daughter travel to their holiday home on the edge of a lake. The daughter borrows the family car and drives the few miles into the nearest town to visit an old friend. The friend works in a shop, and when a teenage boy offers dope in return for selling him some cigarettes, the friend agrees. They drive the boy to a cheap motel room, and are getting high on the smokes, when two men and a woman arrive. One man is the boy's father, and he and his cohorts are sadistic killers wanted by the police. While the boy looks on helpless, the two girls are kidnapped. Her spirited friend is killed whilst attempting to escape, and she herself is violently raped. As she escapes across a lake, she is shot and assumed dead. In the meantime, the three killers and the boy arrive claiming an accident has occurred. They are put up in the guesthouse, where they are unaware of the girl's arrival. But they are in for a rude awakening when the parents realise they have their daughter's attackers in their midst...

Anyone who has read my review of the original version from 1973 will know already that I'm not an advocate of this kind of movie. Faceless fantasy violence is one thing, but watching a woman undergo both physical and sexual torture does not make for comfortable viewing, even allowing for the fact this is a work of fiction. This sort of event is too true to life, and my view is that cinema (and indeed DVD home viewing) should be an enjoyable experience.

It's an interesting exercise to see what impact the remake will have on a modern, enlightened and socially aware public, because horror stalwart Wes Craven's original was intended to shock. Craven's depiction of peeling back the end of the summer of love to reveal the corruption of truth beneath, was a social (and possibly political, with the recent Vietnam War) statement on the end of innocence.

Today, with street and organised violence much increased and significantly more widely reported via the internet and other media, people have become hardened (if not accepting) of the change. Therefore, what we are effectively left with here are the bare bones of a story, which simply doesn't hold up in the same way.

Having said that, the last third of the film, which features the revenge of the upper-middle-class parents against their daughter's assailants, is handled more competently than the original, which has another downward turn for the innocents. It's the triumph over adversity factor, which I've talked about in other reviews. There has to be a victory, even if it's a small one; and it's nice to see that there is no anger or rage on the couple's faces - only the cold logic of revenge. Nevertheless, some of the attacks and killings late on wouldn't be out of place in a Friday 13th film.

It's a shame that once again I have to taint a review with a moan about a check disc with a Property of... warning stamped over the centre of the screen. Is this really necessary Universal? Don't treat your prospective publicity with contempt.


Ty Power

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