20 Oct 2012
SHOCKTOBER SPECIAL: Last House On The Left (2009) - Lisa's Review
*** SPOILERS ***
Another remake this week for the month of October. I was interested to see how this remake would compare to the original 1972 movie reviewed here. I had heard much about the original and had always been advised to avoid due to the horrendous violent and brutal scenes and graphic rape depicted. I myself found the movie to be very sympathetically shot and well put together. When I heard similar comments about the remake, I wondered whether it would be palatable. I hadn't rushed out to see it, so tonight was my first watch.
Again, I was pleasantly surprised with this movie, as with the original. I won't go into too much detail about the storyline of the movie as its still quite fresh and raw in my head. I did find it disturbing in places and difficult to watch, so don't think any amount of waffle could convey my feelings on the movie in full. While the movie started rather typically and wasn't much different to your typical modern horror movie, around the middle it shifted gears dramatically.
We have 2 girls again (Mari & Paige) as with the original who get into the company of a criminal gang who are on the run for murder. The movie actually started with the 'rescue' of one of the criminals by his 2 compatriots and the murder of the 2 cops transporting him to prison. The death of the second officer was particularly horrid and left me with a bad taste in my mouth as they held a photo of his children in front of his face as he died, telling him he'd never see their faces again. As a mother, I found that one difficult to bear and wondered whether I was going to be able to watch this movie.
Back to the 2 girls. In short, the gang take them deep into a forest where Paige is viciously stabbed and left to bleed to death due after shouting insults to the gangs leader (Krug) to save her friend Mari from being raped. Sadly all this facilitates is her own death and the slightly delayed rape of her friend. This is where the entire movie changes and even the cinematography ramps it up a gear. The rape scene is (as with the original) very difficult to watch, it is brutal, nasty and heartbreaking. For me the word heartbreaking sums up the entire mid section of this movie. I sat transfixed with the horror in front of me feeling loathing, empathy, disgust, fear, regret and deep sadness. In my eyes, even though, to give the whingers their dues; it is sick, it is disgusting, but it's real! It happens and if it is to be depicted, it should be for what it is. I feel this movie does this well. This is thanks to the direction, but mostly for me due to the amazing acting of Sara Paxton. This is an actress that hasn't come to my attention before, but I was remarkably impressed by her. She is stunningly beautiful in an innocent, naive, almost child-like way, which makes what she endures all the more heartbreaking. Its almost as if her eyes were made to illustrate the expression doe-eyed. Her portrayal of a young girl destroyed is captivating and horrific all at the same time. As in the original Mari manages to escape and is pursued through the forest. In the remake however she is a champion swimmer, so as we watch her swim across the lake towards her parents summer home, we have everything crossed she'll make it. The scene showing her swim and the eventual hit with a bullet is beautifully shot. (no pun intended) One scene where she rolls over in the water (which is all shot in slow motion) and lays on her back bleeding out, I have to admit made my eyes water. It is just so heart-breakingly sad. A rainstorm starts and hammers off her still body and upturned hands. It gives me shivers even now. I found myself intensely sad for some time after watching this scene.
In this remake, there is a major difference with regards to Mari, but I won't give it away. I had no idea and it made a VERY pleasant surprise for me.
Following these scenes, the movie goes back to its starting pace and loses its shine for me. That's not saying it was bad. It still stands as a solid horror movie. The acting is good, the effects are good, but that special something had gone. I felt some scenes were dragged out longer than they needed to be and not enough time was spent on the kills (especially the lead thug Krug, although it was spectacularly done).
I liked the ending. I can't say what happens as it would completely give everything away and I think I've given more than enough away above.
I would recommend this movie, but not for anyone who finds it difficult to watch disturbing scenes or who isn't a fan of horror. You have to have a strong stomach and a strong head to watch this one and not have it stay with you. I have no doubt it will stay with me for some time, but hey, to me that#s the sign of a good movie.
Thumbs Up and a Lisa Recommends from me.
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