Based on Wes Craven's landmark 1972 exploitation flick of the same name, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is a brutal movie that exposes the darkest recesses of human depravity. The simple plot follows four criminals on the lam who encounter a pair of nubile female teens in a small mountain town. After murdering one and brutally raping the other and leaving her for dead, the cons seek refuge at a nearby summer house. The twist is that it's the very home inhabited by the parents of one of the victims. Upon learning that their house guests raped and tortured their 17-year-old daughter, the couple exact a revenge that arguably exceeds the excesses of the sociopathic gang.
When originally released in 1972, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT was a shock to the system. Never before had a film shown such images of human wickedness. Grainy and low budget, the original film played like a maniacal cackle from the seedy underbelly of an America nursing a brutal post-Aquarian hangover. Things play out a little differently, though, in 2009. For starters, the movie actually looks quite beautiful, and the story’s idyllic mountain setting is milked for all it's worth. The performances are noteworthy as well, with Garret Dillahunt more than convincing as Krug, the gang's swaggering leader; and Monica Potter and Tony Goldwyn portraying the distressed parents with an effective mix of panic, courage, and blind instinct. In an age marked by both increasingly ghastly films and a public discourse that actually debates the merits of institutional torture, a film like LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT really shouldn’t shock anyone. But in both the original and the remake, there’s a latent nihilism that permeates the world. The idea of a sense of lawlessness that cannot be understood or prevented, but only reacted against, is truly disquieting and makes this story unique in the annals of horror.
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