Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Last House on the Left Review

"We don't wanna off someone first night out. I mean, it'd be a shame to get this floor all messed up with blood."

Even in this desensitized cinematic world we live in today, a world where franchises like the Saw or Hostel films are financially successful and widely appreciated by audiences, The Last House on the Left is shocking and totally fucking brutal. Frankly, it's hard to watch at times and the content is not for the faint of heart, which to be honest is kinda the group I belong in. I don't watch the Saw films beyond the original, and even that one doesn't exactly resonate with me in a way that makes me want to relive it. I have not and will not visit a Hostel, you can hang a big sign on those movies that simply reads "Not Interested" on my behalf. 

I like to enjoy watching a film, not dread every passing minute and lose my appetite over senseless, horrifying violence. It seemed I was destined to loathe rather than love my journey to The Last House on the Left.

I kinda did loathe it. I kinda loved it too though.

Totally fucking brutal, but that is basically the point of this work by the late great Wes Craven. Released in 1972, Wes was known for being a bit of an anti-war activist at a time when combat was the front and center story in the news every single day. As Vietnam raged on, Craven came up with a concept that would shock and repulse an audience with ease and I have to wonder if anyone watching at the time laid awake that night with the realization that rape and murder weren't to be tolerated regardless of the setting or their political allegiances. Perhaps witnessing such atrocities first hand was more damaging than beneficial for the progress of humanity, and those people fighting would never be the same again. Perhaps no one actually "wins" a war.

Where The Last House on the Left loses me a bit is with the strangely imbalanced tone of the entire experience, as one minute we are watching the follies of a couple of idiotic police officers with absurdly silly music playing, and the next we are witnessing innocent people be horrifically attacked by evil personified in the form of deranged human beings. It's hard to gauge whether I should be laughing at characters that feel lifted from Smokey and the Bandit or be terrified and nauseous due to senseless violence.

I probably will never watch The Last House on the Left again, but I don't think it is a grotesque perversion that deserves to be ignored either. I believe Craven had a point and he made it, albeit via some pretty poor performances and a painfully cheap aesthetic that feels extraordinarily dated. It does look and feel dirty though, which is appropriate and at least in terms of setting the right mood, an audio and visual upgrade would actually detract from the experience rather than enhance it. 

I kinda loathed it. I kinda loved it. I don't really know where I stand. All I really know is, I will remember my one trip to The Last House on the Left for more right reasons than wrong. 


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