After many moons, I was finally able to watch the remake of Last House on the Left thanks to my well stocked local library. To be honest I ...

Last Houses on the Left

After many moons, I was finally able to watch the remake of Last House on the Left thanks to my well stocked local library. To be honest I was timid about watching an updated version of the film because I feared it might not live up to the high expectations I had from the original. As it turns out, I was right to fear and the remake, like so many rehashes of the sixties and seventies horror canon, does not have the same impact as its progenitor.

The first Last House on the Left was an angry film reacting to the horrors of Vietnam and the general distrust of the establishment. This is reflected in the comedic police officers who several times come close to saving the kidnapped girls, but through their incompetence fail time and again. The violence in the film is startling and hard to watch as Mari Collingwood and Paige are kidnapped, raped and tortured by a band of degenerates led by an escaped convict named Krug. The brutality is senseless and heart wrenching while in the remake the only thing that even comes close is the rape of Mari by Krug.

The original film draws strong parallels between Krug’s psychotic family and Mari’s parents as the film cuts between shots of them engaging in similar activities (i.e. flirting). Craven’s purpose here was to show that the two families are not that different from one another, and lurking in each is the potential to do violence. This was an effective device in the original that is not employed in the remake. If anything the Collingwood family is portrayed as the complete opposite of the violent and hedonistic Krug clan. There is no hint of sexual desire between the two parents and their later bloodlust comes out of nowhere.

The biggest flaw of the remake is that is seems to twist Craven’s original message. Craven sought to show audiences that there is a dark and violent side to us all, as evidenced by the father’s slaughter of Krug with a chainsaw in the final scene. What makes the original film so impactful was that the parents make a conscious choice to kill the people who raped and tortured their daughter. The remake takes the opposite tack by taking away that choice. The parents are stuck at the house without a car and can’t find the keys to the boat. They are effectively trapped and have no choice but to defend themselves against Krug and his band of thugs. By leaving the Collingwood’s no way out, the film condones their later brutality by justifying the circumstances: they had no choice but to kill to survive.

The remake also diminishes Craven’s original intent to display the home as the seat of violence. In the remake, the last house on the left is the parent’s country home whereas in the original it was the family’s primary abode. This change suggests that the potential for brutality is something one can indulge in away from the constraints of society and civilization.

This compartmentalization of the violent side of human nature is reinforced by the fact that the parents put up Krug and the others in the guest house, a separate dwelling from their own. The film’s end also contributes to this point as the parents sail away from the house and the carnage within. Their flight implies that even though we do have a penchant for violence, it is separate from who we really are and we can always leave it behind.

It’s truly disappointing when a remake doesn’t live up the standards of the original film and that is exactly the case with Last House on the Left.


  1. I am severly disappointed but not surprised. Great review.

  2. Well, I have not seen the remake, as I was pretty much traumatized by the original. A few years back I tried to re watch it, and had to turn it off as I found it pretty repulsive. It really takes a lot to offend me, and LHOTL had it in spades.