Story: Mari (Sara Paxton) is on a countryside vacation with her parents and while she misses the more exciting city life she is escaping, she is about to take things up a notch. Her friend Paige (Martha MacIsaac) is going to join her for some time away from the parents and when the two meet a young man with some weed, things really start to look up. Justin (Spencer Treat Clark) not only has some good weed, but he also has a motel room and so the three chill there to smoke out. But when Justin’s dad Krug (Garret Dillahunt) and the rest of the crew return unexpectedly, Mari and Paige find themselves in serious trouble. Krug and the others happen to be fugitives and as none of them have issues with turning to violence, can the girls escape a brutal fate?
Entertainment Value: This movie was released during a torrent of remakes of old school horror classics, but like so many of the others from this time, failed to spark even a fraction of the power of the original. Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left has remained a genre staple for decades, while this remake is unable to match either the brutal nature or b movie qualities of the original. On its own merits, this movie is a passable thriller that doesn’t stick in your memory, but it is hard to separate it from the film it was inspired by. The narrative is fine, but doesn’t reel you in and while the atmosphere can be tense, the movie feels too slick and polished to build much grime or nastiness. So this is certainly a toned down, more mainstream take on Craven’s cult favorite, but that is likely preferable for more mainstream viewers. In the end, The Last House on the Left feels like a missed opportunity, but if you just want a basic thriller or you are a remake addict, give it a chance.
In the original movie, the performance of David Hess is one of the more memorable elements, as Hess is such an effective sleazeball, a role he would take on numerous times in his career. Garret Dillahunt reprises Hess’ character Krug in this remake, but he lacks the raw aggression and authentic nastiness to reach that level. Of course, he is also less over the top and gives a more traditional performance, so given the tone involved, that might not be a bad thing. He adds in a dark edge to the character and while not as unhinged as Hess, Dillahunt does bring some tension and creepiness to some scenes. It is hard not to compare his turn to Hess’ work, but overall Dillahunt is a solid villain here. Monica Potter on the other hand is severely miscast as Mari’s mother and feels out of place throughout, especially during the finale. The cast also includes Aaron Paul, Sara Paxton, Riki Lindhome, and Tony Goldwyn.