Admittedly when I first discovered that a remake of Last House was in the works, I was perturbed. Normally, I don’t get too upset about remakes, but my first thought was: how does a Hollywood studio remake a film like The Last House on the Left? The fiber of the original was comprised of so much anger, rebellion, contention, and shock that I didn’t see the film having its place in this context. Eventually, upon more reflection, I realized: what a great film to remake.
My viewing experience was slightly tainted by the annoying pubescent audience members that snuck in to the movie—only to text, walk up and down the aisles, and frequent the bathroom in groups during the entire film. Some of these kids looked as young as ten and I thought to myself, hmm this is going to be interesting and perhaps awkward.
I'm not sure I would trust these people...especially the last guy on the left
So cute and innocent
As Mari and her friend Paige are persuaded into the hotel room of Justin (the son of Krug), I couldn’t help but get the feeling that some moral lesson was being prescribed: don’t do drugs and don’t talk to strangers. I’m not sure why I felt this pedantic tone so strongly. Maybe it’s because I knew what was coming. It was painful to watch the girls giggling and full of life, while I’m just dreading what’s to come. Normally, I can sink into the moment of the film, but not here. The entire hotel scene was drenched with sick anticipation.
The attack and rape of the girls is brutal. While Iliadis’ film is not quite as depraved as Craven’s, the most vicious moments are more powerful because they are used more sparingly. The rape of Mari is long, arduous, and difficult to watch. The murder of Paige is almost as slow and painful. The cruelty is much more intimate than in the original. Craven’s villains were clown-like and didn’t seem to care much about what they were doing. To use M. Bison’s words, to them “It was Tuesday.” However, the remake’s killers are more cold, calculated, and vengeful. One gets the impression that if Mari and Paige hadn’t put up as much of a fight, they would have merely shot them in the head and dumped them in the lake. However, Krug, Sadie, and Francis are too pissed to let them go without debasing them first.
How can you not feel for these parents?
Some of my only complaints about the film are regarding shot selection. There are some strange choices in shot design and editing throughout the film. When shooting dialogue between people, the shots are typically supposed to mirror one another. The lack of unity made some scenes awkward. The framing on Krug when he was driving the SUV…come on guys! A close-up is forehead to just below the chin, not chin to chest. Sure, maybe you couldn’t adjust the car mount mid-shot. Maybe the studio wouldn’t let you reshoot, but the editor didn’t have to showcase the bad camerawork!
Technical details aside, Last House is a strong film. Incredible story, decent writing, great acting, more-than-capable directing, and some good gore to boot! For the record, I don’t think the ending is as bad as everyone else says it is.