Monday, March 30, 2009

The Last House on the Left

Here’s my problem with the majority of contemporary, big budget Hollywood horror movies: they go for too much snuff, too much gore, just too… much. Note to future filmmakers: when you stab a person in the heart with a very large kitchen knife, they will die. They will not get up and fight back for four more minutes. They will fall to the ground and die. Got it?

In 1972 Wes Craven made his first feature, a grotesque exploitation flick ripped off from Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring mixed in with a little bit of Charles Manson sadomasochism. It isn’t a well made film, but I respect it. For its shoe-string budget, and mostly limited gore.
Flash forward to present day and we get a god-awful adaptation of Craven’s film. Now with a much higher budget to increase the gore and ridiculousness. Despite a solid, yet misplaced, cast this Last House on the Left is a real dud.

The whole point of Bergman’s film was to propose an ultimate dilemma: is it okay to kill people that have just viciously raped and murdered your daughter? The father in that film thinks yes, but with hesitations. Once the deed is done, he begs God for forgiveness, not knowing if he will be able to atone for his actions.

Here, and in Craven’s flick, the parents actually seem to be enjoying their revenge. Monica Potter and Tony Goldwyn, as the parents, have few reservations about mutilating these guys into oblivion. Which, for a doctor and is teacher wife, isn’t very believable.

After an escaped convict, his brother and his girlfriend, kidnap, kill and rape two girls, they wind up at the house of one of the girls they just assaulted. It doesn’t take long for things to click into place and hell to ensue. The brutality of the murders and rape of the girls is shown in such a gruesome, tasteless manner that a few people walked out of the theatre. But I get the point, the director wants it to be awful, so he can justify what the parents do later.

I recommend pondering that dilemma after watching Bergman’s classic film. Because after a viewing of Last House on the Left, you just won’t care.

I wonder if the director’s of these torture porn films actually sit and watch their films with a live audience. Don’t they understand that the scary stuff is what we don’t see coming, the things lurking behind the corner. The moments where our minds play tricks on us. It isn’t scary to see a man get his hand stuck in a garbage disposal, or to see a naked woman get shot in the head. That’s just pointless gore. As pointless as this film. D-

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