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The Last House On The Left (Arrow Video) UHD/Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • The Last House On The Left (Arrow Video) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: September 26th, 2023.
    Director: Dennis Iliadis
    Cast: Garret Dillahunt, Riki Lindhome, Sara Paxton, Monica Potter, Tony Goldwyn, Martha Macisaac, Spencer Treat Clark, Aaron Paul
    Year: 2009
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Last House On The Left – Movie Review:

    Remaking a film is always tricky, particularly when it's as iconic a picture as Wes Craven's The Last House On The Left. If you change too much you alienate the fan base but if you stick too close to the original you wind up with little more than a carbon copy of something that's already found an audience. It's rare that a remake seems to succeed, but Dennis Iliadis's take on Craven's classic, produced by Craven and Sean Cunningham, isn't a bad effort. It doesn't trump the source material, but it's an entertaining and often times quite tense picture in its own right.

    The film follows John and Emma Collingwood (Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter) who, along with their seventeen year old daughter, Mari (Sara Paxton), head up to their vacation home somewhere in rural Oregon (well, they don't tell you what state it's in but the license plates and the Bridgeport IPA give it away) for some rest and relaxation. As soon as they arrive, Mari wants to hook up with her friend, Paige (Martha Macisaac) and, once her parents let her take the car, that's exactly what she does. They meet up at the store where Paige works and the two take notice of a 'cute boy' who has come in to buy cigarettes. This boy, Justin (Spencer Treat Clark), takes the girls back to his hotel room where they smoke some pot but the party ends quickly when Justin's cop-killing escaped convict father, Krug (Garret Dillahunt) and his girlfriend Sadie (Riki Lindhome), and his uncle Francis (Aaron Paul) show up earlier than he expected. Needing a ride out of the area to avoid the police, Krug and his cronies decide to take Mari's truck and keep the girls as hostages. When the pair tries to escape, the truck gets wrecked, Paige is killed and Mari is raped and then shot, left floating in the lake…

    With no vehicle and a nasty storm coming in, Krug, Sadie, Francis and Justin take shelter at the Collingwood's summer home, unaware that the kindly couple letting them in for the night are Mari's parents and that it's all going to hit the fan before morning.

    Despite omitting two of the original film's most infamous set pieces (and if you've seen the original you'll know what I'm talking about and if you haven't, well, we don't want to spoil it for you!), Iliadis has delivered a remake that's worthy of checking out. It's a considerably glossier picture than the one that came before it and it doesn't quite have the sleaze factor inherent in the low budget seventies classic but considering that this is a major studio production it is a surprisingly strong film. The rape scene is particularly grueling and leaves little to the imagination and while the violence might not be as gory or bloody as it could have been, it still packs a pretty hefty punch and delivers considerable impact.

    Like Iliadis' early film, Hardcore, it's a beautifully shot film. There's no shortage of striking cinematography on display and the framing and use of contrast in the film is nothing short of excellent. On a whole, the picture is very well put together and very well made. The one thing that stands out though, that you really can't help but hold against it, is the casting. Garret Dillahunt, probably best known for his work on Deadwood, is good as Krug but he just doesn't have the natural scuzziness that David Hess brings to the role. That's not to say he doesn't make for an often times very imposing villain, but it's impossible not to compare him to Hess' Krug and see that he instantly comes up short despite some good effort. The same complain can be levied against Lindhome as Sadie and Paul as Francis/Weasel and Treat Clark as Justin who is considerably more sympathetic here than he is in the original picture, a change which doesn't really do anything except make the finale more predictable. Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter are good as the parents but don't quite have the same righteous anger that made their actions in the first film almost justifiable if not completely understandable.

    Once you stop comparing the cast and get over that not insurmountable hurdle, and you can take this one as a standalone picture, it's not a bad movie. It delivers a couple of strong performances (you really do feel for Mari and Paige) and a few memorable set pieces. It's entertaining, it's creepy, it's sleazy and it's well made, even if it is completely unnecessary...

    This two-disc set, like the Universal Blu-ray release that came before it, contains both the theatrical cut and the unrated cut, which is four minutes longer and noticeably stronger in certain scenes. That said, it’s disappointing that the version contained on the UHD is the theatrical cut, the unrated cut is only on the included Blu-ray disc, which seems like a wasted opportunity.

    The Last House On The Left – UHD/Blu-ray Review:

    The Last House On The Left arrives on UHD from Arrow Video in an HEVC encoded 2160p transfer taken with HDR10 and Dolby Vision enhancement framed at 2.35.1 widescreen with HDR10 enhancement. Picture quality is strong, with a noticeable increase in detail on the UHD that lends itself to a better viewing experience. You’ll notice a lot more detail in the clothing, faces and backgrounds in the movie while the colors look really strong here as well. We get nice black levels and good depth and texture while avoiding compression artifacts and crush. This looks really strong.

    English language 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 tracks are provided, with optional English subtitles included. No problems to note here, the audio quality is quite good. There’s nice directionality when the movie calls for it and the tracks are clean and properly balanced with the 5.1 mix doing a nice job of spreading out the score and sound effects.

    The extras are all found on the UHD, starting with a new filmed introduction by director Dennis Iliadis. More interesting is a new audio commentary by David Flint and Adrian Smith which goes over the differences between this remake and the original, details the different cast and crew members involved in the production, discusses the cinematography and score and plenty more. It’s an interesting and pretty thorough talk that does a nice job of peeling back the layers a fair bit.

    There are also a few new featurettes included here. A River Of Blood is a new thirty-one minute interview with Sara Paxton where she talks about landing her role, thoughts on her character and on the movie itself, what it was like on set and getting along with her co-stars. The Notorious Krug interviews actor Garret Dillahunt for twenty-seven minutes about his role replacing the notorious David Hess who made the part so iconic in the original. He talks about what it was like getting into character, working with the director and some of the more memorable moments from the shoot. Suspending Disbelief is an eighteen minute interview with screenwriter Carl Ellsworth who talks about what went into getting the story updated a bit, his appreciation for the original and what they tried to bring to this new version. Reviving The Legend is a thirty-three minute interview with producer Jonathan Craven that goes over the importance of Wes Craven’s original movie and thoughts on the remake.

    Carried over from the 2009 release is a three minute promotional piece entitled A Look Inside that's really little more than a trailer with a couple of sound bites from Wes Craven and Dennis Iliadis thrown in and ten minutes of deleted scenes.

    The UHD disc also includes a theatrical trailer, an image gallery, menus and chapter selection options.

    There are no extras on the included Blu-ray disc with the unrated version on it.

    As Arrow has only sent test discs for review, we can’t comment on any packaging or book inserts. Should finished product be made available, we’ll update accordingly.

    The Last House On The Left - The Final Word:

    Despite a couple of questionable changes to the original's storyline, Iliadis' remake of The Last House On The Left, when judged solely on its own merits, is a pretty decent take on the material. It's incredibly well shot, and quite tense. The UHD/Blu-ray release from Arrow really should have given us a 4k edition of the uncut version. That didn’t happen, but the presentation of the theatrical version and the newly created extras are all quite good.

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Last House On The Left Blu-ray screen caps!

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