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Blu-ray Review: The Last House On The Left (2009)

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There is little doubt in my mind that any sensible parent would want to seek revenge against those who have brutally attacked their offspring. I know I would. But, in our supposedly moralistic society that alleges to have a fair and balanced judicial system (which usually does more to benefit the guilty than the innocent), such an action would probably lead to much dire consequences. Thank goodness for that tireless “temporary insanity” plea — something the Collingwood family will surely use as their defense.

Despite having more money than God (how else can you explain a summer beach house that has its own summer guest beach house?) the Collingwood family have had their share of bad luck. Their teenage son died a year ago. The marriage between the doctorly patriarch John (Tony Goldwyn) and his attorney spouse Emma (ex-Boston Legal star Monica Potter) is strained. Worse, their 17-year-old daughter Mari (Sara Paxton) has aspirations of being an Olympic swimmer when she doesn’t even have the shoulders for it.

Things take yet another spiraling turn for Shitsville when Mari heads into town to team up with her dumber-than-dumb bimbo friend Paige (Martha MacIsaac) and they try to score some pot from a creepy kid named Justin (Spencer Treat Clark). Justin turns out to be the son of escaped killer Krug (Garret Dillahunt), who along with his gang of sociopathic murderers (Aaron Paul, Riki Lindhome), winds up kidnapping the girls. After a long drive into the woods, the fiends kill Paige. Mari is raped, subsequently shot while trying to escape, and left for dead. The bad guys make way to the nearest house for shelter from a storm, and are treated as welcomed guests by mom and dad Collingwood. Well, until a barely living Mari crawls onto the porch, that is — that’s when the parents reconsider their hospitality.

The original The Last House On The Left from 1972 opened the eyes of audiences around the world — shortly before shutting them from its brutal imagery and grittiness. Sadly, none of that imagery or grittiness is present in this unwanted remake, which takes a classic, modern-day horror film and completely sanitizes it for our modern-day prudish audiences. Most of the cast couldn’t hold a candle to their original counterparts, especially Garret Dillahunt — his demeanor is totally wrong for Krug, and somewhere, David Hess is probably making a fist in his honor.

That said, the movie has a few scenes going for it. It begins wading in mediocrity. But when mom and dad turn into vigilantes, it finally starts to rev its engines up. Especially during their first act of street justice. But then, the movie slumps again. The end of our main villain is downright abominable. It has to be one of the most ridiculous and passive aggressive moments in cinematic history ever. Jeez, the events depicted in Microwave Massacre were more plausible than Krug’s finish in this film.

Another thing that made the original The Last House On The Left so horrifying was the grainy 16mm film stock used for the film itself. It added a stark sense of realism. The amateur production values pushed it over the edge, bringing to life a world that you would not dare to enter. Here, we have some nice crisp and clear 35mm photography that just screams “Hi, I’m Hollywood!”

On the plus side, those crisp and clear 35mm moments are well-preserved on Universal’s Blu-ray release of The Last House On The Left. The 1080p/AVC transfer presents the film in a widescreen 1.85:1 ratio with no noticeable defects whatsoever. Like the original, this movie relies on some deliberate grain to emphasize the story’s grittiness — or should I say “tries to rely on some deliberate grain?” The color palate is rather off-kilter as well, but again this is intentional in keeping up with the grim nature of the story. The Blu-ray presents the movie with a rather impressive 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Lossless track, with French and Spanish DTS 5.1 accompanying. Subtitles are provided in English (SDH), French, and Spanish.

Universal’s Blu-ray gives one the option of watching the film in an unrated version or the R-rated theatrical cut. Either version of the film is a let-down in my book, but the rest of the special features are even more disappointing than the remake itself. Aside from the usual BD-Live, My Scenes, and U-Control features that most people over the age of 30 wouldn’t think twice to access, the disc is limited to a few deleted scenes (non-anamorphic) and a brief promo about the film. A few previews boot up with the disc.

Why people would want to remake classic horror films that withstand the test of time is beyond me. No, actually, it isn’t: it’s about the money, really. Oh, sure, these filmmakers cite their wanting to re-imagine or re-introduce the impact of the originals with today’s audiences as their main excuse. But how can you re-imagine something like the original grindhouse favorite The Last House On The Left and still make it friendly for the audiences of multiplexes? You can’t. And both Wes Craven and Sean S. Cunningham should be ashamed of themselves for producing this crap.

Stick to the original. If you dare.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.