‘Last House’ Brilliantly Thrilling, Frighteningly Stupid

The Last House on the Left tells the story of two teenage girls: Mari and Paige. After being tricked back into a hotel room by a stoned teen Justin (played by Spencer Treat Clark, The Babysitters), Justin's parents return home to their motel room; and they're not happy about the new guests. After an extremely graphic rape scene, the gang-bangers need a place to crash for the night. So they find the nearest house, home of Mari's parents. They soon discover that these newfound guests have hurt their daughter, and decide to get revenge by performing a series of gruesome tactics on them. This isn't a Friday the 13th

"count-the-victims" sort of movie; this is every parent's nightmare. The worst case scenario of "spending the night at a friend's house". This is exactly what Mari (played by a surprisingly convincing Sara Paxton) said to her mom-and-pop before walking off to what she would soon find out would be the worst evening of her life.

The Last House on the Left is actually the last house for miles. Let me first say, I tried to watch the original Wes Craven classic, but I couldn't handle the rape scene. So I tried again, but Comcast took it off of FearNet before I got a chance to finish it, so I can't compare the two films. I was tempted to see this because I heard that the 1972 version was what put Craven on the map. In fact, Craven's son, John, produced Last House, along with his legendary father and Sean S. Cunningham, who also produced the original movie. I now see why the classic made him a star. The Last House on the Left was strikingly thrilling, not scary, but thrilling. I don't think it's much of a horror as the February remake of Friday the 13th and the Amityville Horror remake were. Sure, there's no Jason or terrifying ghouls like the other films I just mentioned, but there's still a monster that will frighten audiences. The monster of sick people such as rapists, pedophiles and child-abductors-and that's equally as scary. The creepiest part is that that this could happen to you. That's the message that director Dennis Iliadis (Hardcore, his only other flick) wanted to get across to the public. To never let your guard down.

The message couldn't have gotten across well enough with only a PG-13 rating. No, this one needed to be 'R'. The main reason is for the rape scene of Mari and the (spoiler alert!) murder of Paige. You could only feel bad for Mari; Sara Paxton was an absolutely awesome choice for playing the victim. And the cat-and-mouse scenes between Krug (played by a dangerously smart Garret Dillahunt, who's on FOX's Friday night Terminator: the Sarah Conner Chronicles) and Mari and Paige make you sit even more on the edge-of-your-seat!

And, like most of the horror remakes, Last House on the Left is only an hour and 40 minutes long. But I really didn't mind that-until the ending. It's hard to tell you why the final scene was bad without giving it away. I'll just say that it involves Dillahunt's character and Mari's parents, Emma (who, guess what! Was in another after-midnight flick, Saw. She was Dr. Gordon's wife; THAT'S where I know her from!) And John (played by Tony Goldwyn, who was the voice of Tarzan in the Disney animated classic) Collingwood. I was going to give it a full 5 stars up until the last minute. I walked out saying the same thing I said when I stepped out of Watchmen-"You've got be kidding be, you're ending it THERE, Hollywood?"

The Last House on the Left is a thrilling so-called "horror" with a powerful message. A rare, faithful remake of a classic. Your kids might be begging you to take them to see Disney's latest Race to Witch Mountain, or your work buddy might be saying he wants to go see hot girls in Miss March, but ditch the kids and tell your buddy to "buzz off"; The Last House on the Left is the one to see this weekend. Same rating I gave the F.13 remake: 4/5 stars.

For a video review, click here.

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