Drive-By Movie Review (Halloween Edition): The Last House on the Left

This is a review of the 2009 movie The Last House on the Left starring Garret Dillahunt, Tony Goldwyn, and Monica Potter

Plot Summary: After kidnapping and brutally assaulting two young women, a gang led by a prison escapee unknowingly finds refuge at a vacation home belonging to the parents of one of the victims — a mother and father who devise an increasingly gruesome series of revenge tactics.

The Honeybee: What the heck are you doing and why are you dressed up like a vampire when Halloween is still a few days away?

Me: I’m trying to use my vampire powers to put you under my spell and seduce you.

The Honeybee: So that’s supposed to explain why you’re waving your arms like you’re being pestered by an ornery hornet or something?

Me: Um. Yes.

The Honeybee: And that’s supposed to seduce me?

Me: Maybe?

The Honeybee: Hey Dracula, next time get a clue and try candy or flowers like smart mortals do.

Me: I do have candy!   Here.   Now surrender yourself to the powerful charisma of Dracula!

The Honeybee: Heh.   Sorry, Romeo, but “fun size” ju-ju-bes from the Halloween candy jar ain’t exactly what I had in mind.   And would you please stop trying to bite my neck?

Me: Fine.   Well, as I let my overwhelming powers of seduction continue to work on you, may I suggest we get right to our very special Halloween edition of the Drive-By Movie Review?

The Honeybee: Yes, and not a minute too soon.   Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t last night’s movie a remake of an old Wes Craven film?

Me: You are so right, Honeybee, The Last House on the Left is a remake of the Wes Craven thriller that was released in the early 70s.

The Honeybee: It didn’t seem very Wes Craven-ish.

Me: What do you mean?

The Honeybee: Well, it wasn’t as scary or gory as A Nightmare on Elm Street or one of the Pinhead movies.

Me: I can’t argue with you there. The Last House on the Left was definitely not a horror movie per se. In fact, Wes Craven’s original movie was really meant to unveil the real-world ugliness of violence that is usually candy-coated for easy consumption in the cinematic world.

The Honeybee: If anything, this movie drives home the point that teenage girls should never hang out in motel rooms smoking pot with total strangers.

Me: I’ll say. The motel room dope deal you are referring to eventually leads to two teenage girls, Mari and Paige (Sara Paxton and Martha MacIsaac), getting kidnapped by an escaped convict named Krug (Garret Dillahunt) and his dysfunctional posse consisting of his crazy girlfriend (Riki Lindhome) and a morally-bankrupt brother (Aaron Paul).   In the middle of all this is Krug’s dope-dealing, but otherwise harmless teenage son (Spencer Treat Clark), who unsuccessfully pleads with his father to let the girls go.

The Honeybee: I thought the no-name cast did a pretty good job, especially Paul.   He really played a mean SOB that  I loved to hate.

Me: They were ruthless, weren’t they?

The Honeybee: Totally.   To be honest, the assault scenes that followed the kidnapping were really graphic. In fact, I thought they actually went a bit too far.

Me: True to Craven’s original desire, the ensuing terror unleashed upon both of those girls was relentlessly brutal and soberly repugnant and, to be quite honest, I had a tough time watching it.   The scenes went on for an uncomfortably long time.

The Honeybee: When it was mercifully over, Paige had been murdered and Mari was left for dead.   Then, in a strange coincidence, with a nasty storm moving in, the posse eventually ends up at a nearby vacation house being occupied by Mari’s parents (Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter).

Me: At first the unwitting parents take the stranded group in and put them up for the night.   But soon after, a barely-alive Mari staggers to their door and mom and dad realize they’ve got a bunch of ruthless killers staying with them.

The Honeybee: And then the “fit hits the shan,” so to speak.

Me: Does it ever. The second half of the film is all about the parents’ desire for swift and massive retribution on a scale that only a parent would understand.

The Honeybee: Personally, I don’t think  Krug’s girlfriend got enough of what she got. I really wanted her to die a much slower death.

Me: Interestingly enough, she was the only one of the three malevolent misfits that wasn’t killed with the help of a kitchen appliance. Are you suggesting she should have been squashed by the refrigerator?

The Honeybee: Not really, Vlad the Impaler. But I wish I was in the kitchen right now, because after looking at you for the past two minutes, I could really use a garlic necklace.

Me: Funny. So what do you think? Did this movie scare the you-know-what out of you?

The Honeybee: It was a good story and the acting was decent, so the movie held my attention, but I would not consider it scary – and that’s why we rented it, right?   So I have to give it just a “rent” rating.   Sorry.

Me: No need to apologize. I agree with you completely. I just wish I had rented a scarier movie for Halloween.

The Honeybee: You can’t win them all, you know.   Now will you stop with the vampire death stare and please get out of that stupid costume before the kids get home?

Me:You mean I have no chance of seducing you?

The Honeybee: Not a chance.   Maybe next time you should try dressing up as Brad Pitt.

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