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Last House On The Left, The (Unrated) (2009) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Image"The Last House on the Left" is a marketed as a horror film.  I don't understand this as there is too much drama and family oriented plots to make it a horror film.  There is just too much story for it to be horror.  Yes, there are some gruesome scenes.  But there are a lot of non-horror films that have blood and violence and are simply action or suspense movies.  This film fails at being horror and fails about just about everything else.  It only succeeds to disgust in a non-entertaining way.

Movie violence has permeated through films for several decades now.  And while violence and gruesome attacks can be forgiven in the movie, the one thing that is completely unacceptable is the rape of a 17 year-old girl.  That fact aside, they also show it from beginning to end.  I will be honest I turned the movie off right then and there.  Yes, that makes this review biased, but I will not tolerate rape.  I know it is just a movie.  However, when stuff like that makes it into a movie, thinking that it will be entertaining, it just sickens me.

This film is a remake of the original 1972 "Last House on the Left" directed by Wes Craven.  Craven's original film was campy and does not stand the test of time well, but the gruesomeness of that film was worse than this one.  Neither film is suitable for any audience.

This 2009 rendition feels more like a tragic, direct-to-video sequel to last year's "Taken."  The film follows a family of three to a lake house, for what I assume is the summer.  The Collingwoods (Monica Potter [mom], Tony Goldwyn [dad] and Sara Paxton [daughter]) are a family that has suffered an unexplained loss, the death of their son.  Don't ask me what happened to the son.  Apparently the filmmakers thought it to be important to keep bringing it to the center of attention in the story, but never actually informing us as to what actually happened.

While the parents stay at the lake house, their daughter goes to see a friend, Paige (Martha Maclsaac).  She works at a convenience store, and while there a strange teenage boy offers to take them back to his motel room for marijuana in exchange for a pack of cigarettes.  I don't understand this trade.  If you have marijuana, why would you want cigarettes?  Anyway, moving along, the boy happens to be the son of a man who just escaped from police custody with the help of some friends.  And now that the two girls have seen them, they can never be let go. After countless threats, the gang decides to take the girls with them.  For what, I do not know.  Probably to just move the "plot" to the next stage.  When Mari (Sara Paxton) creates a fuss the car skids off the road and crashes, sending everyone in the car scrambling.  After all her hard plan and execution it gets them nowhere other than back in the same predicament.  However, now there is no car and the gang feels they need to teach the girls a lesson.  So, they stab Paige and rape Mari.  Sorry folks, but this is where I drew the line.  I am assuming that the rest of the movie has to do with the gang taking refuge at Mari's parents house and having them exact revenge on the gang for what they have done.

While the movie is complete nonsense, the video transfer is something of balance between poor and true to the filmmakers' intentions.  First, the bad.  There is a lot of film grain that dominates the dark scenes.  The grain washes away some of the textures, but not completely as it usually does.  The contrast and brightness levels waver from one extreme to another.  Colors are drab, this one I chalk up to the film's intentions.  However, my biggest problem with the video quality is that shadow delineation is horrible.  If you are going to make a dark picture, then at least get the contrast right.  Details are swallowed whole in the dark.  There were several occasions in which there were floating heads on the screen.  On the plus, edges are nicely defined without the aid of edge enhancement.  Fleshtones are accurate and the source print is in good shape.  All in all, the video quality will be thought by some as simply horrible.  However, looking at the unsettling nature of the film's visual, I can see why the look is the way it is.  That doesn't mean that the video is appealing, but it is accurate to the type of film.

The audio is better than the video quality for sure.  It is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  The audio is completely immersive, however, stylistically, it does not really draw you into a state of horror.  The filmmakers relied primarily on the visual images to disturb the audience, and neglected the impact of the audio.  This is unforgiving in my opinion.  All the best horror films have great, if not a bit cheesy, sound design.  Stings are a vibrant part of what makes a horror film a true horror film.  This film had none.  There were no surprise sound cues.  That being said, the soundfield is immersive.  The forest sequences are full of ambience, creating a 360-degree virtual tour of the space.  The LFE channel is stable and present.  However, once again, being a horror film it could have used more.  Dynamics are squashed.  Dialogue remains clear for the most part.  There are some times when the music score overpowers the dialogue.  Discreet effects come and go.  However, directionality is considerably good, but the panning is not entirely seamless.  If based on the sound design as well this audio track would get a lower rating.  However, as it stands as a transfer it is quite good.

Universal has not provided much in the way of bonus materials.  Perhaps the studio realized that after watching the film people would be outraged and not want to know anything about the film.  The only features on the disc are a collection of deleted scenes and a three-minute promotional featurette.  The disc is BD-Live and D-Box enabled.  This Blu-ray comes with both a theatrical cut and an unrated cut.  The unrated cut has about four additional minutes of footage.

"The Last House on the Left" is simply disturbing and offers no entertainment value.  Honestly, how could a four-minute long rape scene be entertaining?  Clue: it can't.  The video quality is unbalanced.  The sound design of the film is lacking, but the overall transfer is quite good.  Steer clear of this movie.

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