Tuesday 22 June 2010

What's the point in the remake of The Last House on the Left?...

It's nothing but remakes of late, and it's no more prevalent than in the horror genre. Occasionally you get a worthwhile remake, but more often than not you get an inferior (or even utterly crap) clone with more money, fancy equipment and slick editing to go with the even slicker ad campaign.

The 2009 version of The Last House on the Left is a remake that's just pointless. Wes Craven's raw and tough (and occasionally slapstick) original is very much of its time. The story surrounding the film is just as important, if not more so, than the film itself. This is a key issue when it comes to the failure of so many horror remakes - context.

Many of these genre greats that are being remade have decades or fan obsession surrounding them. They were often made for little money, and much of the time with an indie sensibility back in the days when the horror genre was seen as every studio's dirty little secret. They came from a time of social and political upheaval and the inspiration this brought was more than a passing excuse - it was their reason for being.

Craven's Last House was birthed from the horrors of the Vietnam war, and the film itself would become a huge controversy and a huge attraction at the same time - and it all started when the typing pool staff who would write up the copies of the script would hand them around to each other in shocked fascination at the horrors unfolding in Craven's words. You so rarely, if ever, get such stories with modern horror movies - and most specifically of all - you never get these stories with the remakes.

There's no sense of danger, myth and legend, and everything's so clean. Within three months you've got it on crisp DVD - or 'better yet' Blu-Ray - it's just not the same, and as such, totally devoid of the original's context, the remake is simply pointless.

Not only is it pointless, but it drags. The original had a sense of dangerous, illicit immediacy, but the remake takes itself far too seriously and doesn't pack any of the impact of the original.

Case in point - the original has two bumbling cops as a side plot (falling off chicken trucks etc) - and yet the heinous scenes of woods-bound humiliation are far tougher, grittier and scarier. The sight of Krug's face smashed against that of Mari - a strand of oozing spittle smearing her cheek - all in close up as she is violated is far more haunting and graphic than the shots of nu-Krug's hairless arse wobbling around. It's still not a comfortable scene in the remake, but ... it's as if the remake is a bit of a poser, and the original is the real badass that you could see stepping up behind the posing pretender right in the middle of their posturing act and beating them senseless.

The antagonists are nowhere near as memorable, nor are they memorably played (even though I like Dillahunt's performances - heck, he was in The Assassination of Jesse James, and you should know by now how much I love that film) ... the family unit feels cold and hardly explored (despite a barely peripheral back story), and when we finally get down to the nitty gritty, again it lacks the same punch. It feels too choreographed, too clean, and the closing 'microwave moment' is just stupid.

The whole film has a stick up its arse until that moment, and then we get this preposterous moment that completely undercuts everything that came before it. The movie isn't entirely rubbish, but it's not much of anything else - again, what is the point in this remake? There feels no rhyme nor reason to it beyond making a quick buck on the back of the horror remake craze that has gotten entirely out of hand.

Stick with the original.

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