Until Death Do Us Part - Jonas

Isnin, Mac 16, 2009

#268. Cinema : Last House on the Left [2009]

Trouble in the house: Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter, right, and Sara Paxton, in a scene from "The Last House on the Left."

'Last House on the Left'
Rated: R for sadistic brutal violence, including a rape, and disturbing images, language, nudity, some drug use.
Cast: Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter, Garret Dillahunt, Sara Paxton
Director: Dennis Iliadis
Run time: 100 minutes

When a film company combines gruesome horror with gruesome revenge, it tells me the target audience is filled with people I really don't want to meet. "Last House on the Left" is such a film.For every genuinely suspenseful minute in the film, you must endure a quarter-hour during which the camera primarily rubs your face in blood and ripped flesh.

And if the violent carnage isn't enough, you get an utterly irrelevant, extreme closeup of a lacerated nose being sewn, as the patient (one of the villains, no less) shrieks. When a storm knocks out the power, you even get a bonus image: the needle stalled in mid-stitch.

This is another in that legion of violent adventures in which ordinary people become monstrous after they have been victimized by monsters. The revenge factor ensures early sadistic acts will be answered by later ones. And following the "Carrie" precedent, through which dead people are never fully dead if one last cinematic fright is possible, you sense there might be further sadism following the end credits.

I'll leave it at that. Who am I to ruin anyone's appreciation of senselessness? This version of "Last House," directed by Dennis Iliadis, generally follows Wes Craven's 1972 film, although that one was even bloodier. Neither is this rendition as stylish or fearfully ritualistic as Ingmar Bergman's original "The Virgin Spring," which won the foreign film Oscar for 1960.

In this updating, teenage swim star Mari Collingwood (Sara Paxton) decides to let her parents, Emma (Monica Potter) and Dr. John (Tony Goldwyn) enjoy an evening by themselves during a family weekend deep in some godforsaken woods. Mari drives into town to meet her friend Paige (Martha Macisaac), and both soon go off to a motel to smoke from a bong with a youth named Justin, who is creepy looking but apparently cute enough for the girls.

The silly decision turns severe when Justin's father, Krug (Garret Dillahunt), a fugitive killer, shows up with an ambiguous girlfriend and a sidekick who probably drools, though we never get verification through the kind of closeup later reserved for the stitching of his nose.

Brutality soon follows in the most protracted and detailed scenes in the first part of this grotesque drama. Young Justin shrinks from involvement of any kind, but the other two men more than pick up the slack, with gleeful help from their female cohort (Riki Linhome).

Having wrecked their vehicle in the woods, the fugitives make their way through a driving rainstorm to the nearest property, which happens to be the Collingwood place. Some effectively suspenseful irony unfolds before the doctor and his wife realize who their guests are and what they've done.

At the end of Bergman's study of revenge in medieval Sweden, you feel as if you've looked briefly at violence that is profoundly mythological. At the end of this updated version, you simply may feel nauseous.

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