Blu-ray Review HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Last House on the Left (2009)

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Kevin EK, Aug 18, 2009.

  1. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    THE LAST
    HOUSE ON THE LEFT
     
    Studio: Universal
    Film Year: 2009
    Film Length: 1 hour 50 mins (Theatrical Cut), 1 hour 54 mins (Unrated Cut)
    Genre: Revenge Thriller
     
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
     
    BD Resolution: 1080p
    BD Video Codec: VC-1 @ over 30 mpbs
    Color/B&W: Color
     
    Audio:
    English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 @ an average 3.5 mbps
    Spanish DTS 5.1
    French DTS 5.1
     
     
    Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
    Film Rating: R and Unrated, Respectively (Sadistic Brutal Violence, Including a Rape and Disturbing Images, Language, Nudity and Some Drug Use, Inappropriate Use of Household Appliances)
     
    Release Date: August 18, 2009
     
    Starring: Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter, Garret Dillahunt, Spencer Treat Clark, Martha MacIsaac and Sarah Paxton
     
    Based on the Film by Wes Craven
    Written by: Adam Alleca and Carl Ellsworth
    Directed by Dennis Iliadis
     
    Film Rating:    1 /5
     
    The Last House on the Left is an extremely difficult film to watch, and therefore to review. The movie is ostensibly a horror film about both the wrongs done to innocent young girls and the grim coincidence of their attackers seeking shelter with the parents of one of those girls. And there’s an undercurrent of dread to the first ten minutes of the film, in that the viewer knows something awful is waiting to happen. But once the awful thing starts to happen, the film becomes at once both ordinary and revolting in the level of violence and viciousness on display. Once the parents get involved in the carnage, the situation deteriorates to the point that the scenes seem to be generated from an attempt to shock the viewer with inventive ways to dispatch people with household appliances. I can’t say that I really enjoyed this film – I was rendered speechless by several of the more outrageous moments. The caution on the packaging about “sadistic brutal violence” is an understatement, if anything. And if I was trying to follow any kind of story logic in the plot, I’d be out of the movie after the first scene, where a thoroughly unlikely and unbelievable event triggers the rest of the story’s events. I’ve heard it said that the film (and the original Wes Craven film it remakes) has a deep moral undercurrent about desensitization to violence and the hidden darkness of the nuclear family, etc, etc. I don’t buy it. And even if I were to try to go there, the film ends with such a sick joke that it’s hard to find anything in the film even remotely redeeming.
     
    The Last House on the Left has been released simultaneously on Blu-ray and standard definition this Tuesday. Both editions are identical, except that the Blu-ray has the high definition transfer in picture and sound, a bookmarking function and BD-Live access.   On the Blu-ray, the picture and sound benefit from the clarity and detail provided by the higher definition. The only extras to be found on the Blu-ray are a quick promotional featurette in HD and almost 9 minutes of deleted scenes and outtakes in standard definition.
     
     
    VIDEO QUALITY   3 ½/5
    The Last House on the Left is presented in a 1080p VC-1 1.85:1 transfer that shows off a lot of the detail of blood, grime and dirt that the film presents to the viewer. I found the overall palette to be a bit cool and dark, but that fits the subject matter at hand. (I’ve read some criticism that this does not accurately represent the theatrical look of the film, but I admit that I did not see this film in the movie theater.) From what I can see, the picture is fine, with a fair amount of the aforementioned detail constantly filling the screen. I should note that I watched the film on a 40” Sony XBR2 HDTV. If anyone is watching the film on a larger monitor and is noticing problems, please reply within this thread.
     
     
    AUDIO QUALITY   3 ½/5
    The Last House on the Left is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in English, as well as standard DTS mixes in Spanish and French. As is typical for scary movies, the subwoofer is put to good use throughout to goose any moments of “Boo!” that the film can throw at the viewer. A continual nighttime thunderstorm is brought to life nicely by the subwoofer and the surround channels.
     
    SPECIAL FEATURES      1/5
    The Blu-Ray presentation of The Last House on the Left has only two special features: a quick promo piece in high-def, and almost 9 minutes of deleted material in standard definition. And there is the usual BD-Live, “My Scenes” and D-Box functionality.
     
     
    A Look Inside (2:41, 1080p) – This is a really quick featurette that includes some interview material with Wes Craven about his unbridled enthusiasm for this remake of his low-budget horror film from the 70s.  
     
    Deleted Scenes (8:58, 480p, Non-Anamorphic) – Almost 9 minutes of deleted material, including a silly car wipeout outtake, is presented in non-anamorphic standard definition. There’s really nothing here other than scene extensions that tax the viewer’s patience, including an interminable section about Spencer Treat Clark’s work to obtain a key prop. And just in case the viewer thought the ending joke was a mistake of some kind, we get another view of the carnage for everyone’s enjoyment.. 
     
    BD-Live - This Blu-ray includes access to Universal’s BD-Live online site, allowing for the viewing of trailers online.
     
    D-Box – For viewers with this system installed in their home theater, this Blu-ray can make use of it.
     
     
    Subtitles are available for the film and the special features. A full chapter menu is available for the film.  The Blu-ray menus also include the “My Scenes” bookmarking feature and a BD-Live User Guide.
     
    IN THE END...
    The Last House on the Left is the kind of film that really defies review. People that like it will do so regardless of what I print here. But I feel I have a duty to warn any casual viewer to think carefully about spending two hours watching this kind of thing. I can’t recommend it, but I understand if some readers differ with my opinion here.
     
    Kevin Koster
    August 18, 2009.
     
  2. MattFini

    MattFini Supporting Actor

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    The original is one of my favorite films despite the fact that it's seriously rough around the edges.

    It's raw, brutal and very much a product of its time.

    This remake is technically superior in just about every way. Better performances (except for the main villain, David Hess from the original will never be topped) and a more confident structure really make this a solid effort.

    My only qualm with this new version is that once you've finished watching it, it all seems a bit pointless.

    Because this film is so technically well done and tense, I find the 1 star review incredibly harsh, but it's representative of the fact that it's certainly not a film for everyone.
     
  3. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Same here. I can definitely see how Kevin and others wouldn't enjoy this movie at all but I thought it was fairly well done. Except for raw power and sleaze, I think the remake is better than the original on nearly every level.
     
  4. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    I've seen THE VIRGIN SPRING, the rip known as LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, countless Italian copycats and finally, this current remake. I thought the remake was pretty good for what it was. It certainly had a lot more imagination than some of the $200 million blockbusters out there. It's certainly not a film for everyone but rape/murder shouldn't be a pretty thing.
     
  5. MattFini

    MattFini Supporting Actor

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    I agree and disagree. For me, the parents were certainly a step up in this version. That could be because they had more to work with, and the script fleshes them out even during the final act where the original film simply had them seeking revenge.

    Much like the Hills Have Eyes remake (which I also really liked), my biggest qualm is that this film is largely pointless. While the first film brought the violence, degradation and disillusionment of the Vietnam war into Anywhere USA, the remakes doesn't have the same significance. Not that it could, but while the original film has earned its place in horror/exploitation history (for very good reason), its a little hard to justify this version's existence.

    That said, it's an excellent film for what it is and there are moments that do improve upon the original (I find the 'revenge' element of this version particularly more satisfying and Tony Goldwyn is freaking awesome!).
     
  6. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    I hear you Matt, but the final act of the father pushes the situation to the point where I don't buy the idea that there is any kind of morality at work here. For me, I felt like I was witnessing a series of brutal, horrific acts that went past the point of anything I would consider as entertainment. When that last one came up, it felt like a really sick joke on the audience, and it snapped what was left of my patience.

    Granted, there is an audience for this kind of thing. But I don't go to movies like SAW or HOSTEL, and you could well argue that I'm not an appropriate audience. At the same time, I see myself as a kind of everyman...
     
  7. MattFini

    MattFini Supporting Actor

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    If you're talking about the very last scene before the credits, then I totally agree.

    I found that completely stupid and I really wish they'd left it on the cutting room floor.
     
  8. MattFini

    MattFini Supporting Actor

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    Also, Kevin, check you Private Messages when you have a sec!
     

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