The Last House on the Left
1 hour, 50 minutes
Meet John (Tony Goldwyn, Abandon), Emma (Monica Potter, Saw) and Mary (Sara Paxton, Soldier); the Collingwood Family. They've left behind their daily drudgery for their annual summer vacation at the lake. Mary bounces into town to visit her friend, Paige (Martha MacIsaac, Superbad). The two teens finds themselves in the midst of a clan of miscreants, led by recently escaped convict Krug (Garret Dillahunt, No Country for Old Men). The Family Krug and the Family Collingwood are on a collision course with destiny. The sign post up ahead reads "Lake Ends in the Road." Your next stop: the last house on the left.
I really dug Last House. Granted, it's a far cry from the insanity of the original, but it's a well structured tale of terror. So I keep asking myself, why am I hung up on this damned house!? Let me explain. John's a doctor and Emma seems to do important work, too. Obviously well-to-do, it seems only natural that they own a summer home. But the family owns a two-story home at the lake, with a boat house, a massive tool shed AND a two-story guest house!?! Both domiciles are loaded with furniture, linens and even the medicine cabinets are fully stocked. The main house even has a cabinet full of wine, enough to carry the family through Indian summer. Is it just me or does this seem a bit excessive? And the kicker; they own a 10,000 watt, faux-wood veneer, approved-for-nuclear-testing microwave you'd find in your gram-gram's kitchen. Really?! You couldn't spring for a portable funcooker like normal people!! But I digress.
Dillahunt is my man. I've enjoyed his roles on Deadwood as well as Sarah Connor Chronicles and his twinge of devilishness works well here. However, he and his compatriots aren't nearly as crazy and drug-addled as the original's gang...except, maybe, Sadie (Riki Lindhome, Million Dollar Baby). Potter and Goldwyn, too, make you feel the anguish and anger over the evening's events. By the way, what's up with Monica Potter's career? It's like she's been on the Sandra Bullock short bus for her entire career. I don't think Paxton will suffer the same fate. She gives a top-notch performance and her Aquamarine training probably helped, too.
Last House isn't for the timid or faint of heart. The Family Krug are introduced in an explosion of blood-spatter, but their deviant ways settle into a very cautious and calculated routine that's surprisingly weak in comparison to the meek Collingwoods who wreck shit once their ire's agitated. The film does feature scenes of graphic rape and torture, but its conservative nature keeps it from attaining Firefly-family infamy.
The Money Shot
The Last House on the Left pulls off a decent amount of tension and dread, but it could have been truly nail-biting had they trimmed off a solid fifteen minutes. Still, horror films with a fairly realistic, well-explained story are a rarity these days, so you should catch the good ones whenever possible.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The Last House on the Left