Box art for The Last House on the Left

The Last House on the Left

horror, thrillers


A reimagination of one of the most notorious horror films of all time that follows two ordinary people who go to increasingly gruesome lengths to get revenge.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
    41%
  • Audience Score
    53%

common sense

NOT FOR KIDS 0
Positive role models
0 out of 5
Sex
4 out of 5
Violence
5 out of 5
Consumerism
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
Language
5 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5

Grim, vengeful horror film well made -- but NOT for kids.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this gory remake of the 1972 exploitation horror "classic" is absolutely not for kids (or anyone with a weak stomach), whether you watch the unrated version available on DVD or the theatrical version reviewed here. It's a nonstop barrage of bleak, terrifying, realistic, and raw scenes of sexual assault, bloody murder, and sadistic violence. And unlike many other horror films, where a supernatural entity is behind the bloodletting, here it's perfectly average people committing horrible crimes and acts of vengeance. Next to this bloodbath, the swearing, drinking, sex, and drug use may seem less egregious, but they're there all the same.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the impact of seeing so many violent images on the screen. Are movies like this scarier than those that feature supernatural or other over-the-top villains? Why or why not?
  • What about the fact that the camera doesn't cut away from any of the brutal acts? How does that compare to other horror movies?
  • Do you have any sympathy for the parents who are seeking to punish the criminals who victimized their daughter, or is their bloodlust as irredeemable as that of the movie's "bad guys"?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: Boy, words can not express how much I just loathe and detest this movie.

- Ben Lyons, At the Movies, Monday, March 16, 2009

Rotten: It's that first 30 minutes that ruin this movie.

- Ben Mankiewicz, At the Movies, Monday, March 16, 2009

Rotten: Not only is it plodding and completely predictable, the carnage is rendered slowly and quasi-reverentially, making the whole brutal experience come off like torture porn.

- Claudia Puig, USA Today, Thursday, March 12, 2009

Audience Reviews

4 stars

B+

- bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb1, Thursday, June 24, 2010

3 stars

Want to see a few evil people get exactly what they deserve, at the hands of a pair of vengeful parents? If yes, The Last House on The Left was made for you. It's a throwback to an earlier time when horror didn't only equate a zombie outbreak or hauntings, it could be something as simple and as realistic as a few decent people running afoul of..well, some not so decent people. The villains were often nothing more than sadistic, psychotic avatars of pure evil. These kinds of movies weren't exactly subtle, and they could be almost exploitative in their use of violence and carnage. Not for the faint of heart, to say the least. And The Last House on the Left is a remake of one of those movies. Which means that like the original, it doesn't pull many punches. Some scenes are downright difficult to watch. It's grim and bleak, and even the eventual triumph of the protagonists is marked by vengeful savagery. I can't really say that I "enjoyed" most of it, but it did appeal to the part of me that likes to see evil get its comeuppance. This is worth watching for anyone with a tolerance for uncomfortable scenes and an affinity for old school terror and violence.

- lewiskendell, Tuesday, June 15, 2010

4 stars

"Do you want to hear what I did to Mari? I bet you do. Pervert. You want to hear how tight your little homecoming queen was?" Among the latest fads in Hollywood is to remake every other horror movie released throughout the 1970s and '80s. Predictably, this has caused an outcry of criticism and a number of bad films to clutter the cinematic climate. However, Wes Craven's directorial debut, 1972's The Last House on the Left, is a film that left room for improvement. Despite its reputation and cult status, the movie has not aged well. Blemished with amateurish performances, low-rent production values and a terribly uneven tone, the original Last House on the Left is merely a footnote in the genre only note-worthy due to the controversy it stirred up as well as the fact that it was Craven's first film. This 2009 remake therefore had serious potential. Unlike the majority of other horror remakes, The Last House on the Left was not begat by Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes, meaning no hack music video director and far more creativity. Luckily, this remake fulfilled its potential - it's a gripping experience with solid acting and far more substance than you'd expect to find in such a production. While several changes were made for this remake, it remains faithful to the original film's basic premise. Mari Collingwood (Paxton) is vacationing with her family at an isolated summer home, and spends an afternoon with her best friend Paige (MacIsaac). The two meet the shy young Justin (Clark), who invites them to his motel room to smoke weed. Unfortunately, once at the motel, Justin's travelling companions show up: father Krug (Dillahunt), uncle Francis (Paul), and Krug's girlfriend Sadie (Lindhome). As it turns out, the clan are murderous fugitives, and Justin's extended family are less than pleased to find two visitors in their motel room. After kidnapping the girls and stealing their car, Krug, Francis and Sadie proceed to torture and violently dispose of their captives in front of the horrified Justin. With a violent storm approaching, the four seek refuge at the only nearby house: the house occupied by Mari's parents. With both Wes Craven and Sean S. Cunningham backing this remake, it could be said that the two were attempting to refine their ambitious 1972 amateur film. In fact, though many die-hard fans have balked at this statement, Wes Craven himself has admitted that the remake is a marked improvement over his original film in several areas. One thing's for sure: this The Last House on the Left is a far more accomplished movie than the 1972 original - the technique is slicker, the script is smoother, and the tone is not as erratic (the element of slapstick humour has been removed, thank God). It could be argued that this remake is pointless and unnecessary, yet it feels justified since the filmmakers did not set out to simply emulate every aspect of the original. Rather than a mere shot-for-shot remake, screenwriters Adam Alleca and Carl Ellsworth chose to expand upon Craven's original and add new ideas. While it may be argued that the cinma vrit aesthetic of Craven's original added to the visceral impact, the film's technical shortcomings nonetheless stick out like a sore thumb all these years on. For this remake, Greek director Dennis Iliadis proves to be a visually sophisticated filmmaker, and has done an excellent job of sustaining mood and tension, as well as generating and maintaining a powerful, intense atmosphere of dread. In particular, the middle portion of the film is masterfully executed, with build-ups of tension worthy of Hitchcock. The original Last House on the Left gained its notorious reputation due to its overly gory content, and 2009's Last House on the Left is therefore an uncompromisingly violent and gory horror film as well. It features one of the most horrific rape scenes ever committed to celluloid, in addition to violence that's unsettlingly realistic and stomach-churning. While Michael Bay's name may not be attached to the credits of The Last House on the Left, there are a few sleazy elements that may trick you into thinking you're watching a Bay-produced horror film. For instance, the camera leeringly lingers on Mari's body at the beginning, and the very last scene is a schlocky, unnecessary inclusion merely for the sake of the gore-hounds. Also, the film lacks the intellectual punch of the original, and thus feels a bit more disposable. With that said, however, horror films usually falter on the acting front, but The Last House on the Left excels in this department. Garret Dillahunt and his three companions are far more disquieting than their 1972 counterparts. Dillahunt is the standout here; his work is riveting as the reprehensible Krug. As Krug's brother, Aaron Paul is menacing, while Riki Lindhome is convincing as Sadie. The youthful Spencer Treat Clark is impressive as well, with his performance allowing Justin to emerge as a moral blank slate. Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter are uniformly exceptional as Mari's parents, while Sara Paxton is appealing as Mari. Problems in the execution aside, The Last House on the Left is superior to Craven's original; serving up top-calibre cinematic techniques, honest-to-goodness tension, an interesting new take on the story and a plethora of excellent performances. It's also the best remake of recent years - perhaps the best remake of a classic horror film ever. Of course, the dedicated fans of the 1972 film may not take kindly to the changes made, yet it's different for the better and this should be recognised. One should take into account that Craven praised this version, and also revealed he won't bother to see the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street.

- PvtCaboose91, Tuesday, June 8, 2010