I'm just gonna come out and say it, The Last House on the Left (2009) is way, WAY better than the original The Last House on the Left (1972). Crucify me if you want but that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. The kills are much more memorable, the rape scene is much more brutal, and the overall tone is just a lot meaner. This is mostly thanks to one aspect I felt the original lacked, it has good acting. The movie has eight main actors and they all put on one hell of a show. Aside from one big change, the remake pretty much follows the same plot as the original. It's about a group of escaped convicts kidnapping, tormenting, and raping Mari Collingwood (played by Sara Paxton) and her friend Paige (played by Martha MacIsaac). After leaving Mari and Paige for dead in the middle of the woods, the malicious group leader Krug (played by Garret Dillahunt) unknowingly leads his gang to Mari's vacation home. There they meet John Collingwood (played by Tony Goldwyn) and Emma Collingwood (played by Monica Potter), Maris parents. After inviting the gang to stay the night, John and Emma discover exactly what these people have done and decide to exact sweet revenge.
The plot is designed to make you feel two things: first extreme pain, then extreme pleasure. The first half of this movie is so very uncomfortable to watch because it focuses mainly on the kidnapping and tormenting of Mari and Paige. They try valiantly to escape but their escape attempts are made even more depressing because you already know they aren't going to get away. It all culminates to a brutally-honest rape scene involving Mari and Krug. This is such an uncomfortable and horrific scene to watch thanks mainly to the incredible acting of Sara Paxton. When Krug takes Mari's underwear off and Mari starts freaking out, your heart literally breaks for her. After an excruciating rape that lasts several minutes, you feel such a volatile mix of rage and sorrow, all you feel like doing is jumping into the screen and killing this guy. The horror is only amplified by the use of extreme close ups, making the scene very powerful and gut wrenching. I'm making it a point to talk about this scene because it's a key part of the movie and builds the foundation for the rest of the film.
This is where the pain ends and the pleasure begins. Watching Mari's parents butcher these people is among some of the most crowd-pleasing moments I've ever witnessed in a movie. Every kill feels just and righteous and by the end you kind of wish John and Emma were a bit more ruthless. Not to say the kills aren't gory - a microwave and a garbage disposal are put to very good use; it's just that the Krug death scene is over so quickly, it makes me wish they spent a little more time tormenting the guy because he really deserved it. John tells Krug that he wants to hear him beg for his life, but that request never really got fulfilled.
This is going to sound a little sick but I think what made this movie so much better than the original was the rape scene. In the '72 version, the rape scene seemed more like a gauntlet of how much more perverted the movie can get. In the uncut version, there is a forced lesbian scene that even Wes Craven himself wishes he didn't film. Dennis Iliadis, the director of the '09 version, seemed like he focused more on just the actual rape and tried to make it as brutal in tone as he possibly could. There is more of a build up to it and it's over a lot faster than the original, which seemed to go on forever. The rape is over a lot quicker and I think it's a much better movie for it. It also helps that the kills toward the end are much more visceral and much more crowd pleasing than the original.
My only compliant with the movie was it's trailer - it practically spoils the whole thing and feels like a three minute version of it. If you can see the movie without watching the trailer first, I recommend doing so. The Last House on the Left (2009) is a fantastic horror film.
Score - 9/10