The Last House on the Left (2009) is a remake of a 1972 film of a similar title. This horror-thriller film features stars Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter, Sara Paxton, and Garret Dillahunt. The film is directed by Dennis Iliadis and produced by Wes Craven, the 1972 film’s director, writer, and editor. The film had its premiere last March 13, 2009. It opened to a number of mixed reviews, from both critics and moviegoers. The film grossed over $45 million with just a budget of $15 million.
An escaped convict and his group of hooligans, after having assaulted two women along the way, seek refuge in a couple’s home after they were stranded due to a storm. Unbeknownst to them, the couple was the parents of one of the girls they assaulted. When the couple found out what they did, they tried to exact revenge on the gang the worst way they can.
Escaped convict John Krug (Garret Dillahunt) and his gang rendezvous with family member Justin (Spencer Treat Clark) in a motel room only to find out that he is not alone. With his face everywhere around the local paper, he can’t afford to let Mari (Sara Paxton) and Paige (Martha MacIsaac) go. A struggle ensues as the two women try to escape, but eventually, they are subdued. During the course of the escape, both women were subjected to brutal beating, Mari was raped, and Paige was stabbed. Mari in another attempt to escape was shot at the back while trying to swim in the lake.
A storm breaks out forcing the gang to leave Mari in the lake, thinking she’s dead, and seek shelter in a couple’s vacation home. Justin, by some events, discovers that the couple, John (Tony Goldwyn) and Emma (Monica Potter), was Mari’s parents. He then leaves Mari’s necklace for the couple to see. When the couple discovers the necklace and miraculously finds their daughter on the porch barely breathing, they finally realize that these people attempted to kill their daughter.
The next scenes pass in a blur with the couple attempting to kill off each member of the gang one by one, exacting brutal revenge for what they did to their daughter. The movie closes with the body of Krug paralyzed and his head inside a microwave as the couple’s greatest revenge against him.
The movie successfully plays on your emotions, ranging from anger, pity, and satisfaction. You don’t have to be a parent to relate to the anguish and anger that the movie invokes because who doesn’t want to inflict pain on these brutal men? Those who mercilessly tortured two women before killing them because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time?
A note of warning though. The rape scene is as sadistic as they come, it was painful and traumatic to watch. Other than that, the rest of the scenes are quite bearable.
Performance wise, Garret Dillahunt’s acting was quite impressive. A tidbit of information shared about this movie was that Dillahunt’s unique approach during the audition impressed Iliadis so much, he was chosen for the role. He portrayed Krug’s role with subtlety and ambiguity that he was able to bring in an original take of the role.
In the film, his portrayal shone through, with more than just the typical bad guy who was out to kill. He brought with him intensity and feral anger as a character, and it was effective.
In addition, Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter, the couple whose daughter was assaulted and raped, were also effective. Sara Paxton’s portrayal of Mari was also quite good, proving her years of acting was put into good use.
Perhaps the only issue of contention with this remake is the scene where John puts Krug’s head into the microwave and then it explodes. Like it left a lot of questions about whether it is really possible or did the movie deviate from reality for a while.
Other than this, the movie was able to retain the integrity of this Craven masterpiece, while Director Iliadis did a great job of understanding what the audience wants, and to boot the great cinematography make The Last House on the Left a good watch!