Plot: What’s it about?
I’m not much on remakes, but on occasion Hollywood does get it right and does a fine job with one. Such is the case with “Ocean’s Eleven”, “Cape Fear” and now with “The Last House on the Left.” It’s been quite some time since I saw Wes Craven’s original which is now approaching its fortieth anniversary. Moreover the horror/terror genre seems to be at an all-time high. Seemingly every new movie out there (that’s not some sort of event movie, that is) falls into this category. Now for fans of these types of films, that’s fine and good but for the rest of us ? where’s that leave us? Suffice it to say, the man who brought us “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Scream” still has it and though he’s not behind the camera this time around, Wes Craven’s is still in the remake of “The Last House on the Left.”
Krug (Garret Dillahunt) is being escorted to prison when he’s saved by his brother (Joshua Cox) and girlfriend (Riki Lindhome). We don’t know what crime he’s committed, but found out pretty quickly that he’s not the nicest of people. We then cut to the Collingwood family, with daughter Mari (Sara Paxton) ? a swimmer, ER doctor John (Tony Goldwyn) and mother (Monica Potter). Yes, they’re essentially the perfect family. It’s not really explained, but evidently they lost a son recently as well. They head up to their lake house for some R & R only to arrive and Mari takes the car to go visit a friend in town. As is so happens her friend, Paige (Martha Macisaac) works at the local convenient store and decides to buy some marijuana off a patron of the store. It’s then that things go from bad to worse. The three are high in a hotel room when Krug and his crew arrive and are looking for a getaway. They rape and leave Mari for dead (in a very, very graphic scene I might add) only to end up at the Collingwood’s house. The parents manage to piece together what happens and I’ll leave it at that.
Too often in movies we see a strong character surrounded by weak ones. I’m not a parent but I think if I saw that my daughter had been raped, shot and left for dead I’m pretty sure I’d be out for blood myself. While the antagonists in this film aren’t anything new, it’s the protagonists that really make the movie work. And how about this cast? I mean Monica Potter ? I’d forgotten she existed and I used to have a thing for her back in the “Con Air” and “Along Came a Spider” days. I’ve always been a big fan of Tony Goldwyn as well, so having these two in a film together only strengthened my regard for it. I do feel I need to say that the Unrated version has four minutes of footage not in the rated version and I’m quite certain it’s the rape scene. This isn’t easy to watch, so you might want to keep your finger on the FF button when it happens. All that aside I did enjoy “The Last House on the Left”, a remake that doesn’t disappoint.
Video: How does it look?
The Last House on the Left has always (to me) been a perplexing (read: interesting) looking firm. It seems to have several different film stocks used. The opening of the film is bright and sunny with crystal clear images. However as we progress through the film, it contains a bit more grain and the movie becomes darker (both literally and physically). Nevertheless this upgraded 1.85:1 HEVC 4K image does tend to rectify some of the “errors” that were present on the original Blu-ray. There are several close up shots of Mari’s body (not really sure why) and we can see every freckle on her skin. An opening scene has Mari submerged in a swimming pool with thousands of little bubbles surrounding her and it looks amazing. Contrast is strong and black levels are right on target. It’s an improvement, to be sure, but perfect – it’s not.
Audio: How does it sound?
This appears to be the same DTS HD Master Audio track used on the original release. And that’s fine. There’s a few scenes in which a car gets crashed and it created a very loud “Thoomp!” which my speakers just loved. Dialogue is crisp as well. The surrounds seem to be used more in this film than others, perhaps to enhance the mood of the film and give us a feeling of being closed in. It’s a good-sounding track, for sure.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Several new features (and an audio commentary) are new to this edition thus making the older Universal Blu-ray a moot point.
Disc One (4K)
- Introduction by director Dennis Iliadis – A six minute introduction by director Dennis Iliadis.
- Audio Commentary – David Flint and Adrian Smith sit down and collaborate on this new audio commentary track. It’s a bit by-the-book, but an interesting listen nonethless.
- A River of Blood – Sara Paxton, the actress who played Mari in the film, is profiled.
- The Notorious Krug – Garret Dillahunt, who played (you guessed it) Krug in the film is interviewed in this new feature.
- Suspending Disbelief – Screenwriter Carl Ellsworth sits down in this new feature and discusses some of his motivations.
- Reviving the Legend – Finally Producer Jonathan Craven gives us his .02 on the film from his perspective.
- Look Inside – This very short (just over two and a half minutes) is about the only legacy featurette to survive from the 2009 disc.
- Deleted scenes – Nearly nine minutes’ worth, though none really blew me away.
- Theatrical trailer
- Image gallery
Disc Two (Blu-ray)
- Extended Version – If you need those extra four minutes, they’re included here…on this second disc.
The Bottom Line
A remake of the original early 70’s classic. Has Hollywood done this before? Oh, right…still this one isn’t totally without merit. Arrow’s done a fine job with the visuals and brining new features to the film. That’s always welcome. If this one was your cup of tea, it’s never looked better and had more features than it does now.