For the first half of this unneeded remake to Last House on the Left, it maintains the general gruesome feel of the original. It is the type of film that makes you uneasy, and particularly curious as to why revisiting the subject matter is considered entertainment.
The depraved rape sequence from the original is intact, even more so in this unrated cut. It is incredibly uncomfortable to watch, and this remake also includes sequences prior of Sara Paxton’s character Mari Collingwood undressing or showering. It feels wrong given the context, and especially considering the eventual sequence of events. The voyeuristic style is inappropriate.
Then again, Last House is not going to be a film that tries to be meaningful or ask the audience to think. The film descends into a terrible, campy fight as the murderers/rapists move into the Collingwood home for shelter from a storm. Mari’s parents (Monica Potter, Tony Goldwyn) learn of what happened to their daughter and decide to fight back.
That in and of itself is fine. It can be viewed as part of the human condition or their mental state. But, this is a remake Hollywood style, and none of that seems to matter.
After killing one of the murderers in their vacation home, the Emma (Potter) and John (Goldwyn) run to their guest house where the others remain sleeping. What follows is a poorly constructed brawl, one in which head villain Krug (Garret Dillahunt) throws his clothes at John causing him to fall over a table. Must have been heavy clothes.
The entire sequence of events is unintentionally campy, as if this were some backyard wrestling video. A toaster goes flying, a topless woman defends herself with a shower rod, a mattress is used as a defensive maneuver, and a terribly choreographed fall from a set of stairs conveniently also causes a character to fall through a table as well.
Last House doesn’t require or ask you to think (or question) if what Emma and John are doing is justified. It is more concerned with graphic kills, completely out of place and style with an earlier murder concerned with horror. The film ends with a “bang,” sure to get a jolt out of the audience, but only serves to make the parents more sadistic and ruthless than the original killers themselves. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Movie]
The first half of this remake takes place during the day, and is filled with a bright contrast and nicely saturated color. Minor noise and ringing is forgivable. The VC-1 encode handles the grain structure well, and black levels are fine. Detail, particularly facial textures, are somewhat inconsistent but still notable when they appear.
Then, much like the movie itself, the second half is downhill. Noise takes over, and a shot around the hour and sixteen-minute mark literally looks like a low-end UHF broadcast. Limited lighting leads to some black crush and significant lost detail. While flesh tones remain accurate, this becomes an ugly film, unintentionally or not. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Video]
Last House is given a powerful DTS-HD encode, one that uses the low end effectively. The opening scene has a train passing by, the rumbling of the engine perfectly captured. Minutes later, there is an accident, one that rattles the subwoofer and delivers crisp highs as well.
The film becomes front-loaded with the exception of the score, at least until a heavy thunderstorm moves in. Rain wonderfully fills the sound field, and thunder is deep and powerful. One particular clasp as characters run between houses is unreal in its forcefulness. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
A decent box office does not translate into worthwhile extras. Nine minutes of deleted scenes (in standard def) are typical small cuts. A Look Inside is a horribly short promotional piece. D-Box and BD-Live support (the latter Universal’s typical splash page) are all that remains. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Extras]