DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

Last House on the Left - Blu-ray Review


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</script></div>{/googleAds}Wes Craven may not need to make another Scream movie. Hell, he may not need to make another film entirely if he can continue to cash in from producing remakes of his own once-upon-a-time directed films from the 1970's this successfully. According to my count, he is two-for-two on the whole remake thing; the first being 2006's The Hills Have Eyes (No, I am not counting the awful sequel Craven helped to create). What makes these remakes work well - at times being better than the original source material - is the unflinching brutality the camera captures and the intense build-up of suspense (through long sequences without cutting away) while watching innocent people succumb to terrifying actions in the name of survival or in the case of The Last House on the Left cold, hard revenge. These are stories (or even ideas) that continue to haunt long after the credits have had the film's final say.

The Last House  on teh LeftFor those unfamiliar with Craven's 1972 film, The Last House on the Left is about a generous family that, unsuspectingly, takes in a group of criminals on a stormy night, only to discover that their guests are responsible for the raping and shooting of their teenage daughter, Mari (played by Sara Paxton) whom they think is spending the night with her friend Paige (Martha MacIsaac). Once this disturbing truth is uncovered, the family reacts with some unsettling scenes of violence of their own. The simplicity of the story as described simply does not do the psychological aspect of the film justice as evident by what is communicated through the thoughtfully engaging camerawork, courtesy of the direction of Dennis Iliadis and the cinematography of Sharone Meir.

In the beginning, only a few scenes fall into the â"oh no, here comes yet another crappy teenage horror film" category. About fifteen minutes into the film though, the honesty in the situation of two teenagers taken as prisoner takes over and the clumsy writing from earlier scenes - involving cell phones, swimming and teenagers being dumber than they really are - dissolves into genuine horror. The parents of Mari (played by Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter) are genuine and earnest people; their realness in key scenes makes the situation more of nightmarish for the audience. The pitch-perfect casting of Garret Dillahunt as Krug, the ringleader and chameleon of engaging father-son psychosis in this criminal outfit, really helps in not dismissing the movie as an inferior remake. Also, the choice of Spencer Treat Clark as his son, Justin, also brings a new dynamic of suspense and hope missing in Craven's original. That being said, I have to disagree with screenwriters Adam Alleca and Carl Ellsworth change up concerning the trinket Mari carries to a medal her recently deceased brother gave her. The fact that this family has already lost a son changes the reason why they fight back making it more about preserving what is left of they have as a family rather than a bloody fight for sheer survival at the hands of madmen.

As engaging as this horror/revenge film is, one can dismiss the film entirely due to the ridiculously bizarre final 3 or so minutes if the film. It's an ending occurring after the film's real conclusion on the boat that should never have been tacked on. It defies all logic and reason; it's completely out of place in the film and comes across as a horrible, horrible, horrible (did I mention that it's horrible?) parody of Showtime's Dexter. It involves a microwave, a criminal's head, and a pulpy mess that cheapens everything the rape, the family's trial, the actual horror - about the movie I, for one, scratched my head and then laughed. I get that Iliadis is trying to show how far this father, a doctor, has dipped for revenge, but it's so out of place that is comes across as just for lack of a better word stupid. That's why I highly recommend that you stop the movie after the close-up of the father's face on the boat. Don't keep watching unless you want to see screenwriting idiocy at its finest.

Currently, Craven is producing remakes of Shocker and The People Under the Stairs (no, he is not attached to the reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street) and, from seeing how well the previous remakes of Craven's work have turned out, one can see the value in giving other burgeoning talents the reigns because sometimes, as is the case with The Last House on the Left, they turn out better than before, yet they still reflect upon your talents. Vanity projects? Sure, but so far the remakes are far better than their original counterparts and their contemporaries and that, to me, is reason enough to continue mining the Craven vaults.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
3 Stars
3 Stars
DVD Experience
3 Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

As far as the blu-ray disc goes, Universal is leading the pack with their template; easy to manage, streamlined, while at the same time visually engaging. Unfortunately, with this release, there isn't much in the way of bonus features to justify Universal's menu design. There are a few cut scenes that don't add anything to the story, a few deleted bits, and a rather silly Behind the Scenes video. You have the option to watch the theatrical version and the unrated version and that's about it. With that in mind, if you stop the movie at its true resolution and never witness the microwave scene, then you have a strong remake of a haunting story that succeeds where the original fell short and provides some at least a faint glimmer of hope and, if you choose to watch the unrated version of the film that the blu-ray disc offers, you are going to need it as there is more rape and more stabbing and more gore.

Screen Formats: 1.85:1

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish.

Language and Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 French: DTS 5.1 Spanish: DTS 5.1.

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; Deleted scenes A Look Inside featurette D-Box motion enabled.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Featurettes:

  • A three-minute HD promo with Wes Craven

Deleted Scenes - nine-minute reel of deleted scenes (in standard definition).

Number of Discs: 2 with Keepcase Packaging , BD-Live functionality; D-Box support, Universal's "My Scenes" bookmarking feature,. The disc includes both the theatrical and unrated cuts of the film.

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