Thursday, August 15, 2013

Film Review: The Last House On The Left (2009)

The Last House On The Left (Review)
United States/2009
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...unsettling, disturbing, and emotionally effective."

John (Tony Goldwyn) and Emma Collingwood (Monica Potter), and their daughter, Mari (Sara Paxton), head out for a vacation at their lake house. Mari borrows the car to visit a friend, Paige, at work. At work, Mari and Paige meet Justin, who leads them to his family's hotel room to smoke. Shortly afterwards, Justin's insane family arrives: Krug (Garret Dillahunt), the leader and father, Francis (Aaron Paul), Justin’s uncle, and Sadie (Riki Lindhome), Krug’s girlfriend.

The Last House on the Left continues to tell of Mari and Paige's kidnapping. They end up in the woods where Paige tried to escape and Mari is brutally raped and left for dead. Now, ironically, this group of bandits end up at the Collingwood home, where both parties are oblivious to the facts... that is, until the truth is revealed. I won't spoilt the rest of the film, but its safe to expect violence. It begs the question: how far will you go to avenge a loved one? As for the Collingwood's, it's all the way. The first act builds up some character and the setting, the second act is infuriating, and final act is satisfying for fans of revenge thrillers. The runtime is slightly inflated, although the film has a fair pace.

This is a horrifyingly effective film. The story develops some character with the protagonists being likable, regular people. The antagonists, on the other hand, are disturbing. In fact, the antagonists -- personality and actions -- are so disturbing, it's infuriating; it's headshaking disgusting, and it makes it much more effective. The violence and the subject-matter is horrifying alone; on top of that, the film also uses strong suspense to create a tense atmosphere and general experience, more towards the end. The violence is abundant and realistic, so, if you find violence terrifying, you should be looking forward to sleepless nights. The violence can be overwhelming, even for hardcore fans; the rape, in particular, is unsettling.

The acting is great from the entire cast. I enjoy Sara Paxton's believable performance. Tony Goldwyn is great, although a few lines of dialogue seemed bland. Garret Dillahunt, Aaron Paul, and Riki Lindhome are perfect in playing their disturbing, unlikable characters; Lindhome overacts a few times, but she's usually captures her disgusting character well. The film is beautifully shot, despite its bleak atmosphere. The soundtrack is superb, John Murphy is a personal favorite. Dennis Iliadis' direction is great, he pulls so much from his resources and manages to successfully avoid the "torture porn" subgenre.

Overall, The Last House On The Left is a great revenge/horror film. It's not the most tasteful film, but it manages to be unsettling, disturbing, and emotionally effective. From a technical standpoint, it is exceptional. However, the violence is borderline, not quite but close, torture and it is often overwhelming; I'm not sensitive to violence, yet I cringed a few times. You've been warned.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood including sexual violence/rape, and sex and nudity.

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