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

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Once in a generation, there is that movie that scares everybody. That movie which causes you to look around in fright. That movie that keeps you from sleeping at night. Once in a generation, a movie comes around that is amazing, terrifying, and horrific. For this generation, that movie is The Last House on the Left.

Last House tells the story of the Collingwood family – Mari (Sara Paxton), Emma (Monica Potter), and John (Tony Goldwyn) – their vacation, and their summer lake house (with its own guest home). While this seems like a normal summer vacation for a rich family, the Collingwoods are on this trip to help alleviate the pain of recently losing their son/brother, and they are each dealing with it in different ways. Mari attempts to swim her pain away, though she always wears a necklace to remind her. John shuts himself away by working at his hospital, fixing other broken people. Emma pays attention only to her legal cases, hoping to find her saving grace in one more argument. The family wanted to come together during the vacation, but they didn’t want it to happen this way.

Last House also tells the story of the Krug gang, a group of low-life thugs who just broke their boss out of a cop car. While running from the law, Krug (Garret Dillahunt) and his posse (played by Aaron Paul and Riki Lindhome) run into Mari while she is lighting it up with Justin (Spencer Treat Clark), Krug’s kid. As Mari has seen his face, Krug cannot let her go – this is where the story starts to get interesting.

Just because you cannot let her go doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with her. Krug and his group rape, beat, and strangle Mari, just because she chose the wrong guy to get high with. They then shoot her in the back and leave her for dead. With a storm quickly approaching, the gang heads to the nearest shelter — the Collingwood home. John and Emma are quite hospitable and treat the four very well, until the almost dead Mari crawls up onto the porch. That is where the movie turns, and the Collingwood family starts to plot their revenge.

One of my few issues with Last House is that there is no real moral issue brought up during the movie. While the Collingwoods act the same in 2009 as they did in 1972, their reactions to these acts are different. In '72, the family got their revenge, but they were left broken. They had sacrificed their morals yet gained nothing from it. In 2009, they apparently don’t have this conflict of interest, and instead they get revenge with no consequences. I liked the moral gray area, and I am sad that it was missing from this variation.

Would you help them if they came to your door?

That said, however, Last House is probably one of the best remakes that I have seen in years. While I enjoyed the 1972 version of Last House, I like the 2009 version so much better. I appreciate the fact that it is an actual movie, and a thriller, instead of a fake documentary. Sure, the feeling of documentary is nice, but it forces the viewer to be part of the action, and that is just disturbing. With nice, clear shots of the action, the 2009 variation lets you watch, rather than feel, the movie.

Speaking of clear shots, Universal presents Last House in stunning 1080p widescreen (1.78:1). Frankly put, the video quality of this movie is incredible, and it blows almost everything away. All of the blacks are deep and dark, the colors are vibrant and realistic, and everything is perfect. Heck, I could see each grain of dirt as Mari was lying on the ground being raped, and each wave crest as she swam for her life. I have not seen a movie with this visual quality in some time, and am extremely pleased with it.

As for the audio quality, it is equally impressive. Presented in DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround, everything is flawless and superb. The dynamics of the movie are great, with full lows, and crisp highs. Never once did I lose the dialog to the action, or the screams to the score. Everything was balanced and fine-tuned. While the sounds emitting from my front speakers and sub-woofer are great, there is, however, a lack of much action in the surround sound arena. There is simply not enough ambient noise coming from beside and behind me to make the movie convincing. Besides this, the audio is great.

As for extras, Last House is severely lacking. There are a total of seven extras, though only five of them actually are extras. There is “a look inside”, which is a three minute long commercial for the film. Frankly, at only three minutes, there is nothing else that you could do. There are also the deleted scenes, which is a montage of scenes, not individually coded scenes. Additionally, there are the Blu-ray extras, which are D-Box, BD-Live, and My Scenes Sharing. The other two extras? Why, they are the unrated version and the digital copy, of course. As I said, the extras are useless.

Overall, I believe that The Last House on the Left is a great film to add to your collection. The storyline is great, the plot is pretty good, and the actors are decent. The images and video are astounding, and well worth watching. The entire film feels polished, clean, and well-made. I really like Last House on the Left, and think that you will as well.

Movie: The movie is great and terrifying.
Blu-ray Quality: Everything is vibrant and jumps out at you.
Audio Quality: Except for the surround sound, everything is perfect.
Extras: Nothing at all worthwhile.
Overall: Buy it, rent it, whatever – just watch it.

The Last House on the Left is rated R for sadistic brutal violence including a rape and disturbing images, language, nudity and some drug use. There is also an unrated version included on the Blu-ray.


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About Robert M. Barga