The Last House On The Left 2009 Movie Scene Sara Paxton as Mari running away from their attackers in the woods

The Last House On The Left [2009]

The 2000s saw a lot of remakes of horror movies from the seventies. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was the first, The Hills Have Eyes second and the movie we’re going to talk about today was the third. The Last House On The Left is a successful remake of the 1972 movie of the same name. Depending on your taste, you might even consider it superior to the original, Wes Craven movie. We will be following Mari, a young girl who’s looking forward to a vacation with her parents in their lake house. This will give her an opportunity to reconnect with her old friends and meet some new ones. However, all of this is going to change after she hears a door opening behind her. 

What will enter is pure evil and chaos. Here’s a pro tip: if a movie opens with characters having a casual conversation or telling a joke, it’s going to be a good one. I think that the first time I noticed that was when I was watching The Thing 2011 edition. Right away I have to tell you that The Last House On The Left features exactly one horrific scene that got the movie banned in the UK. That scene is not so visually graphic but more psychologically disturbing. And I have to admit that as a horror veteran, even I had trouble watching it. On the other hand, the rest of the movie is perfectly fine, without any major surprises. 

I greatly appreciate the director’s desire not to turn this movie into a “torture porn” film. The sub-genre literally exploded during the late 2000s with the rise of movies like Hostel and Saw. Oddly enough, its roots go far back, all the way into the seventies. Salo or 120 Days of Sodom, I Spit On Your Grave, and The Cannibal Holocaust are just some of the examples. I don’t like this sub-genre although I did go through a phase when I checked out all of these movies to see what the fuss was about. It’s mostly graphic stuff for the sake of graphic stuff, without any underlying theme. Just another branch of a much bigger exploitation genre.

The Last House on the Left 2009 is a different beast. As I already mentioned, it’s more psychologically intense looking at what people are capable of if push comes to shove. And here, the push didn’t come to a shove but a punch, kick, and stab. To me, the most disturbing scene in this entire movie was the one in the motel. First of all, it’s entirely plausible and realistic, something I almost experienced firsthand. Secondly, the contrast between these two worlds is stark and poignant. And finally, it intelligently unfolds enabling you to create your own theories of what would you do in that situation.

Probably exactly the same thing as they did. It feels a bit strange to talk about these scenes without giving you proper context but I just don’t want to spoil anything for you. This is a modern movie featuring solid production values, excellent direction, and even better performances. Sara Paxton as Mari was just terrific but our sadistic trio led by Garret Dillahunt made the biggest impression. Riki Lindhome and Aaron Paul whom you might remember from Breaking Bad were terrifyingly good in their roles. It was also cool to see Tony Goldwyn, co-star of the nineties buddy cop action comedy Kuffs. Now, the pacing isn’t the greatest along with a quite hefty running time of almost two hours.

I would trim that to around ninety minutes to keep things moving. And while the second half of the movie benefits from these prolonged but also quite intense scenes, the first half feels a bit sluggish. And yet, as I’m writing these words, it’s coming back to me that the last 50 minutes were actually one incredibly gripping and nasty scene. I also think that the director Dennis Iliadis used the opening act to build this picture of an innocent family, especially exploring the character of young Mari. Finally, the ending was just satisfyingly perfect. Especially if you decide to check out the Unrated version of the movie featuring just four additional minutes.

Director: Dennis Iliadis

Writers: Adam Alleca, Carl Ellsworth, Wes Craven

Cast: Garret Dillahunt, Sara Paxton, Aaron Paul, Riki Lindhome, Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter

Fun Facts: The most difficult scene to film was the most disturbing one and according to Sara Paxton, who plays Mari, it took them 17 hours to complete it.

Rating:

IMDb Link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0844708/

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