An updated version of a horror film classic is on theater screens
almost four decades after the original had drive-in movie audiences
screaming. Just remember: it's only a movie. Here's a look at what's
new in The Last House on the Left.
The Collingwoods: mom Emma,
dad John and daughter Mari - are set for an idyllic holiday at their
summer cottage on a secluded lake. But the teenager's reunion with a
friend in town turns deadly when the two girls fall into the hands of a
family of another sort: psychopathic killers who just broke one of
their clan out of prison and are on the run.
A harrowing ride
into the woods is followed by brutal attacks; but then, as luck would
have it, the criminals are stranded on the isolated country road near
the lake as a thunderstorm roars through. They head to the one light
they can see in the distance: "The Last House on the Left," where they
must turn for shelter to none other than Mari's parents who …at first
…have no idea what has happened.
During the fateful night, the
Collingwoods discover who their guests are and what they have done. As
the storm rages outside, they fight for survival and, ultimately,
The 1972 original was the first film written and
directed by Wes Craven, launching a career that would revitalize the
horror genre. The soft-spoken former college professor, who is producer
of this new version, says the story has deep roots.
probably know [Ingmar] Bergman did it in The Virgin Spring and it was
a medieval fable; so the core story is just remarkable and it has a
wonderful irony about it in the way somebody you think is totally
straight can turn savage if they have to," explains Craven.
easy thing is to go for the gratuitous violence and so forth; but to
make a film like this you have to be a mature artist and be serious
about what you are doing and have the ability to get actors to go to
those places that are real and complex," he adds.
filmmaker Dennis Iliadis makes his English-language directing debut
with The Last House on the Left and says his goal was to make it more
realistic than the original.
"To me this film has a great core
story and it is a fascinating piece on human nature," Iliadis notes. "I
really wanted to go deep with that and try to get this almost real-time
sense where you are with these characters over the course of a day as
things escalate and keep getting worse. To me it is very important to
have that feeling that it is almost like real life where things could
go in a different way at any given moment."
co-stars as Krug, the lethal lead villain. He believes that sense of
realism serves the main purpose of a horror film: to scare the audience.
don't like a lot of 'splatter-fests.' It just doesn't seem realistic to
me [and] I feel like I can watch it very casually," Dillahunt says. "I
certainly prefer a more realistic approach and that's what we tried to
do here. I think it is more disturbing. I don't know if it has any more
"Honestly, I probably wouldn't go see this first. I like
comedies more," admits Monica Potter, who co-stars as the mom, Emma
Collingwood, who must find the inner strength to fend off the evil Krug
and his murderous family.
"There is something very human about
each character, even Krug and all the bad guys too which, to me, was
really interesting; and this is something that people might actually
think 'what would you do if somebody did something to one of your loved
ones?' " she says.
Producer and writer Craven has said the
original was inspired by public attitudes toward the Vietnam War.
Director Iliadis says 37 years later, the story taps into another
"I think there is something very interesting about
how we try to set morals and codes: what we think is civilized and what
we think is proper," says Iliadis. "Sometimes we need to reassess
ourselves and there is a lot of darkness in the world. To what extent
do you go? I think in the present climate we need to reassess the
darkness inside us and how we will deal with all the ways we are being
The Last House on the Left also features Tony Goldwyn
as the revenge-crazed father. Sarah Paxton plays the teenaged daughter
Mari. For economic reasons the film was shot in South Africa, with
locations in and around Cape Town doubling for the Oregon woods of the
American Pacific Northwest.