THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. A strong horror film that Stephen King was delighted with
In the more than one hundred years of world cinema, there is no shortage of iconic items, which are talked about as much as read. However, many times after a screening with such images, we nervously look at the packaging, turning it in our hands and wondering if we really watched the right movie. The same applies to Wes Craven’s directorial debut, The Last House on the Left, which is often one of the biggest disappointments experienced by amateurs of horror films exploring the nooks and crannies of the genre. The amateur production terrifies with poor performance, the final scenes are not so much shocking as funny, and the dialogues put into the mouths of the characters make the viewer gnash his teeth. However, the film became a legend because of another thing: a sensational story. However, the author of the plot was not Wes Craven, but Ulla Isaksson, screenwriter of Ingmar Bergman’s The Source, which became the prototype for the American director’s debut work. Almost thirty years after the release of The Last House on the Left the story of crime and punishment has been resurrected once again in this remake by Dennis Iliadis.
Anyone who has seen the trailer has actually seen the entire movie. Anyway, the intrigue in The Last House on the Left is no secret and the creators decided to summarize the entire two hours of the film in the trailer, including the last shot. Watching the described image, we do not ask ourselves the question “WHAT will happen?” but how?”. It is difficult to write about Iliadis’s work without revealing the already quite obvious elements of the plot, but it is worth noting now that many of them are revealed in the following text.
Seventeen-year-old Mari and her local friend, spending holidays with her parents on a lake isolated from the world, are abducted by a band of degenerates led by Krug, who has escaped from the police convoy. The guy who in the original version of the film became the progenitor of another psychopath, Freddy Krueger, known from the Nightmare on Elm Street series (also by Craven), gives two girls a real ordeal, proving that he completely deserves his bad reputation. Although Garrett Dillahunt doesn’t have the same charisma as the unforgettable David Hess from the 1972 version of the film, his role captivates with the villain’s apparent “ordinariness”. Hess as Krug was every inch a psychopath; there was no normality in his eyes, he was dangerously scary, which was later confirmed by an even better performance in The House on the Edge of Ruggero Deodato Park. Dillahunt is more deceptive in his behavior, under the mask of relative everydayness there is a sociopath with murderous tendencies, which makes his Krug seem even more dangerous than twenty-seven years ago. The girls taken to the forest are humiliated, beaten, and finally one of them is raped. However, this is not the end of The Last House on the Left, the real emotions are yet to come.
Probably every viewer, watching a horror film with a similar theme, after several dozen minutes managed to hate the villains so much that he would gladly reach for any weapon to bring them to justice. The originality and attraction of The Last House on the Left is that we don’t have to do it, the heroes punish the criminals for us. How many times have we seen silly girls and handsome boys run screaming away from their pursuers. There is no time or place for that in Iliadis’s film. Mari’s parents, taking in their daughter’s torturers on a rainy night, pay them back for everything they did to the girls. The orgy of violence is just beginning and what’s more – as viewers, we can’t wait and cheer, waiting for another bloody murder. This is going to sound a little scary, but Mari’s parents seem to be us. Even though it is their hands that hold the guns and knives, it is the fulfillment of our sick fantasies of punishing degenerate murder-rapists. The dangerous conclusion is the strength of The Last House on the Left as it exposes our fears while asking what we are capable of to defend our loved ones.
The last house on the left was originally intended for media, but test screenings were so popular that it was decided to release the picture to cinemas. It was undeniably a good decision, because Iliadis made a strong, intense, suspenseful film. Despite the sometimes irritating cinematography work based on lots of unnecessary close-ups and framing details, his second professional film in his career is also a decent job in the realm of production. The Last House on the Left is the most anti-holiday movie we’ll see this summer.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the master of horror himself – Stephen King – was also delighted by that film and called it the best remake of the decade.