It only took more than three decades for Hollywood to resurrect The Last House on the Left and remake it. A Wes Craven and Sean Cunningham creation, the first film is an artistic and poetic commentary on violence and desensitization. While the original was far from perfect, it was full of beauty and a style Craven would continue to perfect over the years. This remake (produced by Craven and Cunningham) not only diverges greatly from the original story, but it also takes the artistry and morphs it into a shiny, new Hollywood blockbuster. Some of the elements I complained about from the first are long gone and while I stand by my original claims, watching this remake made me miss the low-budget awkwardness of the first. While I gave this film the same score as the original, make no mistake, The Last House on the Left remake is NOT the same film and should be critiqued as an entirely separate entity.
The initial plot is the same - two teenage girls run into a gang of criminals and they are raped, tortured and killed. Sort of. The time period is obviously different and small plot changes are made to accommodate that. For instance, it’s unlikely anyone in 2009 would invite a group of four strangers to stay the night in their house, which is what happened in the first film. This remake tosses in a really bad storm, a power outage and a few injuries to justify Krug and his gang staying with Emma and John. Also, there are no bumbling police in this movie. I guess the filmmakers didn’t think it was as realistic this day and age. When Emma and John realize who’s staying under their roof, they take charge and seek revenge. The ways they go about this are different from the first, but the idea is still there.
Let me start with what works. The movie is smoother, the transitions are perfect and the pace is much faster. The movie is longer than the original but it doesn’t feel like it. The acting is far better and the emotional depth of the parents is finally where it should be. This film is a perfect five because it’s just mediocre. There’s nothing mind blowing about it, but there’s nothing horrific about it either. Onto the bad. The Last House on the Left remake is a classic example of what happens to movies in Hollywood when they’re given a big budget. Their goals change. And with that, so does everything else. An example of this is The Evil Dead and Evil Dead. The original is a low-budget, less-is-more masterpiece. The remake is all fancy and backed by millions of dollars; it uses way more blood than the original and achieves worse results. This movie is the same. This remake is not artistic and it doesn’t have a kickass soundtrack. It’s not a low-budget film aiming to make a statement while causing fear. It aims to make money. And in a society that doesn’t really appreciate artistic films, and especially artistic horror, this blockbuster erases all of that and replaces it with B-list actors, excessive backstory and even more graphic violence. The original made a statement with its graphic violence, using it in a controlled fashion. This remake overuses it and drowns the viewer in violence for no reason other than to shock you. And without spoiling the film for you, I’ll just say the ending of this movie is much different than the original and further emphasizes the differing goals of a blockbuster versus an artistic, low-budget film.
While it was easier to watch, this movie is nothing compared to the original. It may receive the same score, but for entirely different reasons. The Last House on the Left remake lacks all the grace and beauty of the original film. It’s a Hollywood blockbuster through-and-through and that’s not really a good thing. This movie adds a mediocre band of serial killers to horror, weak ghosts of their original characters. When will Hollywood realize adding a bunch of villains backed by millions of dollars won’t actually save horror?
If you liked The Last House on the Left, you might also like The Hills Have Eyes and The Last House on the Left.