In 1972, horror icon Wes Craven made a name for himself by writing and directing a film called “The Last House on the Left.” The film was very controversial and helped launch a new genre of terror and suspense films that pushed the limits of the times. The film was notorious for its content which included rape, torture, humiliation, and violence and contains to this day some of the most disturbing images ever captured on film. In this age of remakes, prequels, and sequels, Wes Craven has stepped aside to produce a new version of his classic and this remake is sure to be as controversial and disturbing as the original was.
The film centers around 17 year old Mari Collingwood (Sara Paxton), who is taking time off from her competitive swimming and school to spend the summer with her parents Emma and John (Monica Potter and Tony Goldwyn), at their remote cabin in the woods. The family is coming to grips with the loss of their son, and Mari is anxious to spend some time with her friend Paige (Martha MacIssac), whom she has not seen in a while.
Despite concerns from her mother, Mari is given the keys to the car by her father and travels into town to see Paige. The two girls meet a boy named Justin (Spencer Treat Clark), and proceed to go back to his room to party. The three of them are having a great time until Justin’s father Krug (Garrett Dillahunt), as well as his uncle and father’s girlfriend return unexpectedly. Krug and the group are wanted convicts after a bloody escape that has left two officers dead and Krug and his family the subject of an intense manhunt. The presence of Paige and Mari is an unwanted complication and the two girls are kidnapped and taken deep into the woods. After a failed escape attempt, the unstable group set upon the girls in a series of violent physical and psychological torture and acts before brutally finishing with them and leaving them for dead.
When an unexpected storm arrives, the fugitives take refuge at the only house in the area which happens to be Mari’s home. The Collingwood’s take the stranded group in and render medical assistance thanks to John’s background as a doctor. Unaware of the evil they have let into their home, the Collingwood’s life is turned upside down when their nearly dead daughter appears on their doorstep and forces the family to do whatever it takes to survive.
What follows is a dark, violent, and intense finale that goes to extreme measures to underscore the brutality and desperation the family has been driven to in order to survive. This may lead to some using the popular phrase “torture porn” to describe the film, but that would imply a film that existed in no other context but to titillate an audience with pain and suffering. The film is thin on plot and character development, making it simply a film about revenge and the depths people will go to in order to survive and protect their loved ones. The film is a bit slow at parts but few people will forget some of the more intense moments of the film include the finale. As with “The Hills Have Eyes”, Craven created settings where ideal families were driven to extreme measures when confronted with life outside of the safe suburbs in which they dwelled. The film will shock and dismay some, but few will forget the disturbing images anytime soon.
2.5 stars out of 5