Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Last House On the Left (2009)

            The main problem people have with remakes is how much they seem to tarnish movies that they consider classic.  Sometimes they’ll change things that didn’t need to be change.  They’ll ruin the original point of the movie.  They’ll be pointless, not changing enough from the original movie.  Or, in some very special cases, they’ll just be bad movies, original be damned.  I’ve never seen the original Last House on the Left, but I can think of few movies outside MST3K that have been such a chore to sit through.
            John (Tony Goldwyn) and Emma (Monica Potter) take their teenage daughter Mari (Sara Paxton) to a lakeside cabin.  Meanwhile, Krug (Garret Dillahunt, whose performance is hard to judge given all I can think is “Burt from Raising Hope”) gets freed from the police by his gang, and of course, Krug and Mari end up intersecting, where he kills her friend and then rapes Mari and leaves her for dead.  Shortly afterwards, Krug and the gang end up staying in a cabin to avoid a storm…hopefully, you can guess whose cabin it is.  Revenge ensues after 2 incredibly dull hours.
            Now, to be fair from the start, I was watching the unrated cut of the movie.  Neither IMDB nor Wikipedia tells me what makes this cut different, and I can’t think of anything that couldn’t have been in the standard R-rated cut, so I can’t really tell what was added in.  It just went on forever.  Every scene just keeps going.  The rape scene should be excruciating to watch because it’s a rape scene.  Instead, I was checking my watch during it and waiting for it to end.  When Krug ends up in the cabin, there’s this scene where he and the parents are talking.  The problem is that there’s no connection at this point, and there isn’t one for a while, so it’s just this scene of some weird people talking to some normal people.  It’s not tense.  Krug’s too good a liar and the parents don’t really suspect anything, so nothing happens.  And even once people know things, the scenes just go on forever until all the tension is sucked out.  John and Krug have a pursuit through the house that takes so long that you just want John to walk faster and get it over with.  I felt like this could’ve been a 30-minute Tales from the Crypt episode, not a 2-hour movie.
            And it’s not helped by the acting.  Krug’s almost too over the top for the villain he’s meant to be.  Meanwhile, everyone else is dull.  The worst offender is Justin (Spencer Treat Clark), Krug’s son who’s gotten dragged into this.  His one expression is a blank stare into the distance.   He’s meant to be the conscience of that side of the conflict, but he comes off as a non-entity.  The movie really comes down to Krug and John anyways.  If it had been a movie of Krug vs. John, then it might’ve been a real movie.  Instead, they have to get through the other members of the gang, who just bring nothing to the movie.  This is straight-to-DVD acting…in fact, that’s what the movie was supposed to be until a focus group managed to bring it up to a level it can’t even handle.
            The directing is the biggest mixed bag for me here.  On the one hand, there are some really good shots.  As a car goes crashing off into a forest, there’s a shot of one person hitting the window with blood coming out.  It honestly looks really nice.  On the other hand, it seems like he let style overwhelm him.  There are several voyeuristic shots like we’re stalking the protagonists…but none of the characters are really stalked at any point, so they’re absolutely pointless shots.  Instead of reflecting the mood of the movie, they felt like shots he wanted to do but didn’t realize they didn’t fit.
            If you ever feel the need to waste 2 hours on a movie that doesn’t thrill, isn’t acted well, and isn’t even gory enough to satisfy that itch (the final scene is the biggest moment of gore, and it’s too ridiculous), then at least watch something that has 2 robots in front of the screen.  That’s about the only thing that could save this movie.

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