Mike says it's worth entering THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT

This is actually our second review of this year's The Last House on the Left. Back in April, Martyn Conterio reviewed the film for us. A remake of an early Wes Craven film doesn't actually sound like too bad an idea on paper. Remakes of recent films that already work, or old classics that everyone loves, are almost sacrilegious (I'm sure all of us at OWF have had a moan at one time or another on that topic) but Last House on the Left just wasn't that great. The 1972 breakthrough film for the man who would became a giant of the genre was a good concept that could be made cheaply and effectively. It kind of wasn't either, despite having its moments. And this is why, I suspect, Craven himself came on board as a producer: to see his own little piece of personal history made how it could be. Interestingly, a relative unkown would step up to the directorial plate and try to make it his own. Dennis Iliadis has made just a couple of films previously, none of which were big budget Hollywood fares, making him an interesting prospect for this project. My personal, if slightly optimistic, view going into this was that the experience of Craven and the newness of Iliadis could make for a decent balance of well-manipulated horror cliche and enthusiastic tinkering with the norm. The result was, on the whole, a success. But it didn't live up to my prediction. The simple story of a family heading for a relaxing vacation after going through a rough patch, only to be terrorised by an escaped convict and his cronies (who, for some reason, drag along the convict's reluctant son) begins as a drama. The set-up forces us to identify with the family by showing us the pain in their personal life, and presenting a recognisable family dynamic between loving father, stressed-out mother, and rapidly maturing teenage daughter. The pace is kept high with the adrenaline-fuelled escape of the convicts. But it's the meat of the movie where it fails to impress. The attack on the daughter of the family (Mari, played by Sarah Paxton) and her friend Paige (Martha MacIsaac) is pretty brutal, and smattered with moments of well played-out tension, but shows up an emerging conflict between the desire to appeal to everyone by following convention, and the desire to embrace the increasing trend for nasty grittiness. This conflict continues throughout the film, constantly stopping it short of becoming something great, and is most clearly shown in a rape scene. It seems like the director wants to drag it on to make the viewer uncomfortable, to confront the voyeuristic tendencies of the genre, but someone somewhere stopped this plan by cutting it shorter and throwing in some shots that attempt to sensualise the experience - which is not just a change of directorial intention, but an introduction of the exact voyeurism that it wanted to confront. Putting my (possibly over) analytical stance on hold, there are a few genuinely good aspects of the film. The soundscape is excellent. That might sound geeky, or even like an unimportant piece of praise but, as Sam Raimi playfully showed in Drag Me To Hell, sound is crucial to a scare. Last House on the Left not only avoids the standard shrill shriek at every frightening intrusion, but employs a body-battering bass boom with alarming regularity. Car crashes, bludgeonings and falls are all punctuated with a sonic boom that you can feel in your chest: and it works really fucking well. And let's not forget the kills: the crucial staple of any Craven derivative. The remake deviates from its source material, giving something new for fans of the original to enjoy/moan about, and employ some imagination with a few of the killings. Chief among them is the final scene which is explosive in an utterly unexpected way. Overall, it lacks the fun of Drag Me To Hell but among the recent mediocrity of more intense horrors it is well worth a look.

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Michael J Edwards hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.