The Last House on the Left (2009)
Dir. Dennis Illiadis (2009)
After kidnapping, raping, and killing two teenagers, a gang of psychos find themselves at the home of one of the teen's parents.
It takes a lot of balls to remake not only a classic horror movie but also one by one of the undisputed kings of the genre. Dennis Illiadis, who is otherwise best known for the film Hardcore, took on the challenge, delivering an upgraded, albeit unnecessary, reboot to Wes Craven's disturbing classic. Remodeled but at times almost as unnerving, 2009's The Last House on the Left is a competently-made remake that serves more as a reimagining of Craven's film with less cultural significance but some otherwise excellent performances.
This time around, Mari (Sara Paxton) is back in town and wanting to visit her old friend Paige (Martha MacIsaac). Paige goes looking for weed from Justin (Spencer Treat Clark) and instead finds Krug, played this time by Garret Dillahunt, and his band of merry madmen. Krug and the gang take the girls to the woods, rape Mari and murder Paige, and try their best to off Mari as well. Luckily, Mari is a champion swimmer and manages to get away with only a bullet in the shoulder, slowly making her way to her parents' house across the lake. As I'm sure you're familiar with the story, Krug and friends also wind up at the Collingwoods' place, and after her parents find Mari almost dead, they wreak furious vengeance on those who almost did her in.
Certainly an update on the original, Illiadis' Last House is filled with gruesome kills and an unambiguous ending that leaves a lot more survivors than the original. The Collingwoods methods are brutal and final, and it's a little less Home Alone than the original, what with its homemade traps and deception. Mama Collinwood (Monica Potter) lures Francis (Aaron Paul) much in the same vein as she does in the OG film, but this time he ends up with an on-screen blended hand and clawhammer to the head rather than just a bitten-off member (which undersells the scene a tad). Sadie gets shot in the face, and Krug ends up with the most brutal kill between the two films in the gruesome finale. The gore is certainly one thing that the remake has going for it in comparison.
While there are definitely some disturbing moments in the film, especially the unflinching and uncomfortable rape of Mari, the remake doesn't hold a candle to the original. It's polished and updated, but that only serves to make a little less grimy and disgusting as its predecessor. The actors are far better, including a young Aaron Paul and Tony Goldwyn as Dr. Collingwood. It's a slick film, looking every bit as good as any other run-of-the-mill 2000's slasher. But the glossy finish takes away a lot of the charm (and I use that word loosely) of the original, and The Last House on the Left 2009 Edition serves as another remake that nobody asked for, even if it is a good bit better than most.
Who this movie is for: Remake lovers, Modern horror fans, Competitive swimmers
Bottom line: A flashy update on the original, The Last House on the Left 2009 is a decent remake and an altogether excellent film. It may not have the staying power of Craven's classic but it has some hardcore kills, some disturbing sexual violence, and some fantastic performances to boot. Dennis Illiadis does the best job possible in reimagining the original, and it's still a film that's very much worth watching.