The Last House on the Left

The Last House on the Left
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The Last House on the Left Most Dangerous Game without the honor, Daniel Ilidiasí remake of Wes Cravenís cult classic The Last House On The Left is a depraved portrait of humanity, specifically the lack there of we all display at our worst. Inside the woods, thereís no order, morality or people to hear you scream, just impulsive beasts nourishing themselves with the weaknesses of others. To call this film a disturbing lens into the nightmare inside all of us might be overstating its depth and scope, but these questions linger beneath the movieís surface, pushing what could have been a mediocre horror flick further beyond just above average and into downright decency. Like Scorseseís Cape Fear, another remake, The Last House On The Left is less a fright fest of ghosts in the shadows and more a creepy, disturbing battle of savage wills.

Teenage swimmer Mari Collingwood (Sara Paxton) and her friend Paige (Superbadís Martha MacIsaac) are kidnapped, raped and tortured by a motley crue of creepy-eyed drifters. How exactly they got entangled with such a blood-thirsty lot is neither relevant nor important. They have been abducted by monsters, forced to do things they promised they never would. Theyíve become monsters themselves. And this inhumanity malaises over the hour and forty minute film, giving it the stench of degradation and seedy lust.

Escape attempts are hatched and the girls do fight back but itís not until the four villains unknowingly leave the nefarious crime scene, looking for refuge from the storm in the Collingwoodís secluded second home in the woods that Last House On The Leftís proverbial crescendo is reached. As Mariís parents (Monica Potter, Tony Goldwyn) slowly discover what exactly happened to their daughter and who was at fault, the film soars, voyeuristically letting us watch the father morphing into the evil he so despises.

The Last House On The Left could be so much more, but sadly, it seems comfortable nuzzling in the same embankments other money-making horror remakes continually seek refuge inside. That itís not just another money-making horror remake comes out through a great acting performance by Big Loveís Aaron Paul and a careful muddling of heroes and villains, but the density is all shrouded in been-there-done-that formulaic horror devices. An unhappy family is alone in the woods. A pretty, naÔve blonde girl is kidnapped. A seemingly gratuitous shot of a bizarre talent sets up its convenient use later in the story.

I hate to further the mediaís vicious need to denigrate the horror genre, but itís hard to refute when promising, thought-provoking films like Last House On The Left idle, pinioned to their obsession with staying inside their niche. In a time where superhero movies are blossoming amidst dark undercurrents and stunning acting turns, horror movies have yet to follow suit. This isnít the film that shoots the moon, but its emotional complexity might be the right pass left.

Better than Quarantine worse than The Orphanage, Last House On The Left is worth seeing, and itís worth enjoying. But after it costs you a few hours of sleep and a careful examination of your own moral compass, ask why this film wasnít just a little bit more. Ask why subject matter this ethically haunting wonít even be talked about as a candidate for the yearís best film. Ask why the remake of The Last House On The Left is just another horror movie.

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6 / 10 stars
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