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Lake Ends In The Road.

The Last House on the Left is directed by Dennis Iliadis and adapted to screenplay by Adam Alleca and Carl Ellsworth from the story by Wes Craven (co-producer here). A remake of Craven’s 1972 film of the same name (itself influenced by Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring), it stars Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter, Garret Dillahunt, Sara Paxton, Spencer Treat Clark and Martha MacIsaac. Music is by John Murphy and cinematography by Sharone Meir.

During a family vacation, teenagers Mari (Paxton) and Paige (MacIsaac) are viciously set about by a gang led by recent prison escapee Krug (Dillahunt). When bad weather forces Krug’s car to career off the road, the gang, unbeknownst to them, seek refuge in the vacation home of Mari’s parents. When the parents realise what their new lodgers have done, they begin to enact bloody retribution.

It’s pointless going on about remakes of old horror films, they are here to stay and we continue to watch them in the hope that they will strike a chord with us. With The Last House on the Left, remaking it, to me at least, is understandable given the 72 film is not exactly a great classic itself. True enough to say it has that grainy grunginess that was so befitting the decade’s horror movies, marking it out as an unsettling experience without really living up to its “terrifying” reputation. In fact if you put both movies together they still wouldn’t have enough class in them to give Bergman’s movie a run for its money.

So the remake then, all glossy and big budgeted, with name actors in the principal roles, it is by definition routinely packaged for the modern day audience. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that what unfolds on that screen is challenging us, it really does do its job. The pertinent question exists, are you capable of such violence having had violence inflicted on your loved ones previously? What would you do in the same situation that Mari’s parents find themselves in?

We have been privy to what was meted out to poor Mari and Paige, and the impact is most distressing. There is good cause to argue that Iliadis and his production team go too far in grabbing our attention in readiness for the “revenge” factor later on. Certainly I myself was uncomfortable watching it, as I was with the I Spit on Your Grave remake, but it’s about getting a prescribed response, however close to the knuckle it is.

It’s not a film anyone can feel comfortable about recommending, surely? But I know it put me through a gamut of emotions, even making me feel bad about myself the next day. That is quite often the power of cinema, and clearly the banner that Craven and Iliadis held aloft during the publicity tours for The Last House on the Left. Today I give the film an uneasy 7/10, it’s uncompromising and unapologetically violent, but also laced with flaws. On another day I may find myself rating it considerably lower…

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