20 Oct 2012

SHOCKTOBER SPECIAL: Last House On The Left (2009) - Will's Review

For a spoiler free review of this movie, check out my solo blog here

Rather than review this movie directly (I did that already today - see above) I'm going to use my space here to compare and contrast with the original, therefore...

The remake spends a little more time setting up the family – we see dad at work, and learn a little more about Mari (2009s main victim) than we did) Phyllis (1972) – They’ve given her a “thing” (She’s a swimmer), and a dead brother, Ben, (died in a accident a year ago).

Mari’s necklace is an old pressie Ben gave her, rather than a crappy birthday gift from Mum and Dad.

Of the Gang, Junior has a name now (Justin) and if far more sympathetic. While ‘72s Junior was still a victim, controlled by his father, Junior wants nothing to do with the gang, but can’t see a way out. Rather than luring the girls back to the gang’s place so that the gang can party, Justin is a lonely lad, who brings the girls back to smoke some pot, and intends to have them gone before the gang return. He even openly turns on the gang; He uses the pendant to tip the parents off, just as in ’72, but then he steals Krug’s gun, and gives it to the father!

Speaking of Krug, he is played here phenomenally well; while it would have been easy ho have him all snarling and shouty, he is instead almost charming, but with an underlying *something* that will make you shudder – he’s also a particularly nasty bastard; at his ‘rescue’ in the films opening, he holds a photograph of a policeman’s kids in front of his face… while killing him; ensuring that the last thing that cop will ever see is his own blood dripping onto his children’s faces.

Also on the Subject of Krug; he is the only character to retain his name from the original, and other than “iconic” value I'm not sure why they bothered… he is very different to the original.

The rape is once again brutal and horrifically realistic, I think that it was technically, if analysed god on a shot-for-shot basis less explicit this time, but use of tight shots and shaky-cam made it perhaps even more brutal and difficult to watch.

This time only the female gang member has the “we just went too far” moment, which I liked – in the first movie, after the rape, the gang stand around looking remorseful.. then kill her and immediately get back to being utter bastards.

One major difference is that (unbeknownst to the gang) Mari survives, and manages to crawl home (arriving after the gang have been put to bed for the night in the guesthouse) – this was a smart move, for a few reasons. Her survival allows her father to use his skills as a doctor; in the original it is mentioned that he is a doctor, but we never get to *see* it; here, we see him drain an internal bleed using improvised tools. Her condition provides a ‘ticking clock’ – the parents must get her to a hospital (a doctor with a knife drawer can only do so much), as well as having the gang to contend with, We are also afforded a (somewhat) happy ending this time as Mari and her parents escape, along with Justin. Their lives are shattered, but there is hope. I think to an extent, the implication is Justin will go on to fill some of the whole that Ben left in the family too.

Before anyone cried “Hollywood ending” it’s worth noting that Mari survived in the scrip for the ’72 version… the decision to kill her was made on-set.

It would have been easy to remake this one in the currently popular ‘torture porn’ mould; thankfully the producers (Cunningham returns as co-producer, joined this time by original director / writer Wes Craven) were smart enough to hire a director who ‘got’ the movie.

Apart from the last scene… in which Krug’s head is microwave (and explodes? Really? It isn’t an egg!) I get that they felt the need to give a ‘punch the air’ moment, but for me, that was a mistake.

The original had the downbeat “What did we do here?” ending, in which the parent’s realise that their actions have changed nothing, and that they have allowed the gang to not only tale their daughter, but also change who they are; in this movie we are left with no such morals to ponder. It’s like the “Pro Capital Punishment” version of the same movie. I get the sentiment, but I think it made for better characterisation the old way.

Still, all in all I think this was a better movie than the original, to the extent that this time, I’m going to give it the recommended stamp!

Body Count: 4
Boob Count: 1 Pair
Most Memorable Death: It goes 'Bing' when it's done!

Please use the comments bellow only to comment on this post - to write your own review, please comment on the main post for this movie.

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