Simply stated, The Last House on the Left is one of the most brutal, disturbing and realistic horror films ever made. It's impossible to call it entertaining. It's a non-flinching look into the psyches of a group of seriously sadistic individuals. The film asks a similar question that Craven raised in The Hills Have Eyes: "What lengths would you go to in order to defend yourself and your family? How low can you go in order to survive?
The film starts out warm and sunny and along the way gets darker and darker. The reason why this film is so powerful is that the camera rarely, if ever, looks away from the horrific violence that is shown in the screen. It takes the viewer to a very deep and dark place that leaves them feeling a little queasy to say the least. Some people may consider this film to fall into the "torture porn" category. However, I would disagree. The brutality of Last House is never gratuitous. The viewer cares for the two young girls very deeply. It is not entertaining to watch them die. It is painful and sad which is not really the feeling you get when watching modern films like Hostel and Saw. Craven does something far more creative here. He gives us a front row seat to watch a side of humanity we really don't want to admit exists...but it does!
Last House was remade in 2009 with Dennis Iliadis directing and Wes Craven as one of the producers. It is a very good film in its own right and adapts the original story with great care, leaving the basic plot intact. It is also extremely brutal and graphic at times and has the same effect on the viewer as the original.
As many of you know, Wes Craven was raised in a fundamentalist Christian home. Needless to say, Last House on the Left is one hell of way to rebel against your parents! This movie is NOT for the faint of heart. It is both shocking and thought-provoking and holds up rather well even after almost 40 years.
RATING: Very Good.