The Last House On The Left review

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Horror remakes are like spots: they mostly target teens and no one asks for them. Still, Wes Craven’s 1972 exploitationer was ripe for an update.

Made for buttons, dated and really not that great in the first place, it’s a remake of sorts itself, based on Bergman’s The Virgin Spring (in turn based on a medieval Swedish ballad).

Craven is on board as producer for this rehash, which shares plot, structure and characters with his original: two teenage friends (Sara Paxton, Martha MacIssac) are sexually brutalised by an escaped con (Garret Dillahunt) and his gang of sadists before the tables are turned when the attackers unwittingly seek sanctuary with one of the girls’ parents (Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter).

But beneath the surface, the two films couldn’t be more different. Because despite some shonky acting, ill-advised comedy and a dreadful score, Last House ’72 still felt raw, real – assimilating, distressing news footage from ’Nam to turn viewers stomachs.

It was dangerous where this is safe, dirty where this is glossy, genre-breaking where this is generic, influential where this is derivative and political where this verges on irrelevance.

Helmed with impersonal polish by sophomore director Dennis Illadis, Last House is a competently made rape-revenge thriller. It’s a tidy little Holly-horror, where motives are clearcut, morality is black and white and retribution is glib and guiltless.

Tension is built with workmanlike efficiency and there’s generous gore. But there’s nothing really to fear – and despite reasonable performances, it’s hard to give a monkey’s about any of the characters. In isolation, it’s adequate but throwaway.

In comparison with Craven? We’d rather feel sick than feel nothing.

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Rosie is the former editor of Total Film, before she moved to be the Special Edition Editor for the magazine group at Future. After that she became the Movies Editor at Digital Spy, and now she's the UK Editor of Den of Geek. She's an experienced movie and TV journalist, with a particular passion for horror.