18 April 2010

Last House on the Left (2009)

Adult Content is Present in this Review
While I've never seen the original shockfest, nearly grindhouse-style film by Wes Craven and producer Sean S. Cunningham, I have since read numerous posts online about both versions in an attempt to understand what I just saw.

Now. Mind you, I love somewhat deranged Korean films. Old Boy, Memoirs of a Murder, Lady Vengeance. The list goes on. I prefer to avoid depraved Japanese gore-fests like Ichi the Killer, Audition, and so on. Last House of the Left is not the kind of movie I would normally watch. In fact, had I known what the opening hour was going to be like, I would not have rented this… despite how excruciatingly intense the final Act of the movie is.


Now, I've taken a lot of chances on movies in the past. Watching stuff outside my comfort zone… or IQ… just to see something else.

And from what I've read about the 1972 version of this movie, the remake is tame and the new director, Dennis Iliadis, handles some of the mature, extreme, and distasteful elements with some degree of care.

Spoiler Alert
There is a rape scene in this movie that will make you want to vomit. You know it's coming. There's nothing you can do. Three very bad people have two teenage girls hostage in the woods. The inevitable rape is exploitative, gratuitous, and vomitous. Absolutely. Inappropriate.

If the point of this scene is to get bile to rise in your throat so you will enjoy the revenge that comes in ACT 3, there is no torment these three people can endure that will match how many times I had to look away from the screen.

And yes. I looked away many times.

The rape lasts over a minute of screen time, dragged across four different angles, with very long cuts, with an unflinching insistence of pressing your face directly into the scene, finalized by a panoramic shot of the scene as if to say... "This is important. Do not ignore this."

I am not naive. I understand rape has its place in cinema. I don't like it. But it has its place. Straw Dogs (before I saw this movie) had the most appalling rape scene in movie history. It had its purpose, I suppose, and one could argue its strong impact leaves you dazed. But I still don't think I'll ever shake it from my system. And it's been 10 years since I saw it.

Who knows how long it will take to clear this one from my subconscious.

And what seems to trouble MANY reviewers is the fact that movie is Rated-R and not NC-17. I'm the first person to say the MPAA is nothing more than a team of diaper-wearing baboons, fed on Styrofoam peanuts and Drano. But, how can you miss this? How can you rate a film R with a rape scene this graphic, this vulgar, and a finale that involves microwaving someone's head until it explodes… how do you miss that?

I've been mulling all of this over for several hours now. I've plugged in Jackie Chan's Police Story just to cleanse my palette with some acrobatic action that is impossible to offend. What could have been a masterful creation is sullied by a horrible lack of reality in the final moments of the film and a despicable and unapologetic sadomasochistic first act.

My recommendation is don't see it. I just don't think the solid camera work and pacing are worth it. The Strangers is much better at this. It just is.


Mark Millar is the author of the Wanted comic series (vastly improved with the movie) and Kick-Ass, which sadly remains painfully respectful to the source material. While the movie is very very good, it strays in tone from it's opening moments, to a crescendo of nonsensical action points that culminate with 11-year old Hit-Girl pretty much stealing the movie from everyone.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse played McLovin in everyone's favorite movie-stealing role. And that's where his charm ended. He does nothing to improve this movie.

Most of the actors are "nobodies" in this film, but the dialog, directing, and characters make up for all the inexperience of the cast.

Wanted is all-around better than this in everyway, but it's still a good film. I was disappointed that the film lacked a "heart" and instead just went for cheap thrills in the final third of the movie. When key characters die, we're not really affected because of this change in tone.... more "learning to fight" scenes with Kick-Ass would have made this a better movie for me, overall. And showing everyone's humanity, instead of showing comic book panels would have been a better touch.

And keeping the script focused on Kick-Ass would have been nice too.

Iron Man

Gearing up for Iron Man 2, I made the wife watch this original. And while I'm not a fan of the final 30 minutes of the movie, I did enjoy this a WHOLE LOT MORE this time.

Sadly, while looking up the sequel on IMDB, I found a number of distressing items.
  1. No Terrance Howard as Rhodes... I just hate actor changes like this. Mind you, I love Don Cheadle, but this is just… suckie.
  2. The rumored 2012 Avengers release will be directed by Joss Whedon. Suck. Suck. Suck. No mention of Thor on the cast list and Ed Norton is only "rumored" to play Bruce Banner. I'd probably say no if Whedon were directing, too.
  3. Olivia Munn is in Iron Man 2. I'm not a fan. I'm not some G4TV geek who wants to see her in everything ever. And while this was a smart move to make sure geeks show up, who the hell is going to miss Iron Man 2?
Anyway. Rant over. Back to your movie screens.