The Last House On The Left (2009)

DVD Cover (Rogue Pictures)
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Ranked #1,083
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Garret Dillahunt
Garret Dillahunt
Michael Bowen
Michael Bowen
Josh Coxx
Josh Coxx
Riki Lindhome
Riki Lindhome
Aaron Paul
Aaron Paul
Review by Chad
Added: August 28, 2009
I think that I can speak for the vast majority of the horror community when I say "enough with the remakes", but unlike some of my contemporaries, I'm not totally against the idea of taking a movie that hasn't aged well or was never that good in the first place and updating it. You want to do a remake of House of the Dead? Go for it: you couldn't do much worse, and best case scenario, us horror fans get a good zombie movie out of the deal. The problem is that "Come see our remake of a shitty movie that nobody liked" doesn't sell tickets, but "Come see a remake of the movie that you know and love" will guarantee a studio a top spot in the weekend sales reports. Oh, sure, some of these remakes have turned out surprisingly well: The Hills Have Eyes was infinitely better than Craven's original, and though I personally enjoyed the original more, The Ring didn't open the floodgates for Japanese horror remakes because it was a bad movie.

So, here we have another remake of one of Craven's films, and even though some of you love the original Last House and hail it as a classic of the genre, I personally found that film to be a small step up from rubbish. I wasn't exactly chomping at the bit to see a retelling of the story, but I did have a morbid curiosity about it and wanted to see just how bad it turned out. Here's a shocker: not only is this remake better than the original, it's also a damned fine film in its own right.

There were a few minor changes made to the plot, but the overall idea is still the same. We begin with a family of three - mother Emma Collingwood (Monica Potter), her husband John (Tony Goldwyn), and their daughter Mari (Sara Paxton) - who are heading out to their remote lake house for a weekend getaway. While they're in town, Mari decides that she'd like to take the family van and pay her friend Paige (Martha MacIsaac) a visit, seeing as how the two haven't spent any time together since Mari's brother died last year. The two are hanging out and catching up on memories in the little general store where Paige works when they meet Justin (Spencer Treat Clark). Justin, as it turns out, is new in town, and he'd like to buy a pack of cigarettes. Unfortunately, Paige requires some ID before she'll sell them to him, so Justin replies with an offer: sell him a pack of smokes, and he'll take the two back to his hotel room so that they can dive into a big bag of weed. The two teenage girls eagerly agree.

Our happy little trio soon find themselves holed up in this little hotel room passing the time by puffing on joints, but things are about to take a turn for the worse. You see, it turns out that Justin is the son of Krug (Garret Dillahunt), a murderous bastard who hangs out with his brother Francis (Aaron Paul) and girlfriend Sadie (Riki Lindhome)... and the group is wanted for their original crimes plus the slaying of a couple of local police officers. Oh, and they've just arrived at this hotel, and they're none too happy to find that Justin has brought a pair of girls home. They decide to take the girls with them on their run from the law, and from there, Krug and his buddies decide to see just how much physical and mental abuse these girls can take. If you've seen the original, you basically know where that leads to.

Wes Craven's original version of Last House was better than this remake in one way: it had David Hess as the lead villain. Garret Dillahunt does a damned fine job in this role, but he had some big shoes to fill by playing this character, and try as he might, he didn't quite pull it off. Other than that and the ending (I'll get to that in a moment), this remake is better than its source material in every way: the characters work better here, the violence and humiliation are much more effective, and the entire pace of the film just works out better. It's a bit telling that two of the best remakes of the last twenty years are remakes of Craven's overrated missteps, but who am I to judge?

So, about that ending. I'm not going to spoil it here, but I'm sure that most of you have seen the original and know that it ends up with a showdown in a certain house. That also happens here (though there were some changes made in regards to who lives and who dies), but it culminates with a single scene that just destroys all of the excellent work that preceded it. The Last House on the Left is about ninety minutes of carnage that will suck you in, make you feel for the characters, give you underdog heroes to root for, and then it's all capped off with a cartoon-like scene that will knock two or three points off of your final rating in just thirty seconds. It's that bad, and I don't see how the sheer level of suck in that scene got by the filmmakers.

Had that scene been cut out and replaced with something that actually fit with the overall tone of the film, I likely would have went with a perfect score for this release. It's a great film otherwise, and I think even those of you who enjoyed the original will get some satisfaction out of this - you might even agree with me when I say that it's a much better film. Each and every last one of the actors play their roles as good as one could ask for, the "action" is much more hard-hitting and makes more of an impact, and I just enjoyed the hell out of the film. If every remake was this good, I'd never bitch about them again.

8/10, but that would have been a 10/10 without that bullshit ending.
Ginose #1: Ginose - added 08/31/2009, 01:31 AM
Aside fro m the unrealistic approach to the final scene, I though it was still great. Ended perfectly if you don't account basic human anatomy.
All in all, better than the original in every way (aside f ro m the casting of Krug, of course), but that wasn't hard to do. As good as this and the "Hills Have Eyes" remake were, I'm almost looking forward to the "NoES" remake...


Still, 8.7/10. Great fun.
missbexxie #2: missbexxie - added 09/05/2009, 01:54 PM
I'm one of the heathens that actually thought the original movie failed to live up to any of the hype, let alone all of it. I preferred this one, but agree totally with the review that the ending really spoiled it. Meh! Anyway, for me: 7/10.
Tristan #3: Tristan - added 09/20/2009, 05:42 PM
If they released a version that ended 20 seconds sooner, I would have given this a perfect score, I do believe. Everything about this movie was exactly what you expect in a horror film, then they had to ruin it all in the final scene. So I'm taking a few points off for that terrible ending, but aside from that, a goddamn fine horror movie. Another Craven remake that far surpasses the original. Who knows, maybe there's hope for Nightmare on Elm Street after all.

Nirrad #4: Nirrad - added 09/22/2009, 08:36 PM
Meh, I kept checking to see how much time was left. I felt that it was way too long and boring up until the last 40 minutes or so. Even the struggle at the end was kinda boring. But, it still a lot better than the original. As for the ending, I just laughed it off.
6/10 for me.
benloveshorror #5: benloveshorror - added 08/08/2010, 04:38 PM
But I liked the "microwave" scene. 8/10
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