Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Last House on the Left (***)

The Last House on the Left.  99 mins.  R.  Directed by Dennis Iliadis.  Written by Adam Alleca and Carl Ellsworth.  Starring Sara Paxton, Monica Potter, Tony Goldwyn, Garret Dillahunt, Aaron Paul, and Martha MacIsaac.

I'm no big fan of Wes Craven's original film, but I found the remake to be surprisingly effective.  It mostly follows the plot of the original and remains a rape-revenge tale.  In a nutshell, two teenage girls are taken hostage by a pack of killers, with one left dead in the woods, and another who is raped but narrowly escapes.  When the bad guys seek shelter at a nearby house, which just happens to be one of the girls' parents' house, the parents take justice into their own hands, and give the bad guys their just desserts.  Some of it's suspenseful and some of it's meant to satisfy the audience's bloodlust, but as gruesome and unsettling as the subject matter can be at times, the acting and directing are good enough and smart enough to not get bogged down by the nastiness and to treat the material with an adult and dramatic sensibility.  The final scene is a bit too much though and seems tacked on just to give the audience one last laugh/scream.  The pack of very bad people, led by character actor Garret Dillahunt and Big Love's Aaron Paul, make a big impression and their characters are scary and unpredictable enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.  Not a great film, but a good one, as long as you're in the mood for a dark, disturbing ride.



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