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THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT ($40) is a remake of Wes Cravenís minor exploitation horror classic from 1972. This time around, Craven serves in the capacity of producer, and unlike the original, the remake offers up credible acting, actual production values and a bit more reserve. Of course, the much of the scenario remains the same, but the worst and most exploitive elements of the original story have been toned down or removed altogether. Nevertheless, this modern take on THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT remains an uncomfortable exercise in suspense driven, revenge based, exploitation horror that has a definite connection to the real world.

The premise of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT finds Emma (Monica Potter) and John Collingwood (Tony Goldwyn), along with their teenage daughter Mari (Sara Paxton), arriving at their lake house for a bit of summer vacation. Like a typical teen, Mari wants a bit of space and heads off to town to spend time with her friend Paige (Martha MacIsaac), who works in a local convenience store. While in the store, Mari and Paige encounter Justin (Spencer Treat Clark), who appears to be just another vacationing teen. Unfortunately, after Justin invites the girls back to his hotel room to chill, Justinís father Krug (Garret Dillahunt), his uncle Francis (Aaron Paul) and Krugís girlfriend Sadie (Riki Lindhome) show up, and the girls soon discover that Krug and his cohort are murderous fugitives. After abducting the girls, the fugitives have a collision in the woods, which results in an escape attempt that ends with the quick murder of Paige, not to mention, the rape and near murder of Mari. In an ironic, but not unexpected twist, the murderers arrive on the doorstep of Emma and John, who help patch up the "car wreck victims" just before the nearly dead Mari drags herself home. What follows is the surprisingly satisfying and graphic retribution undertaken by Emma and John in the name of their violated daughter.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Both the Unrated Version and the Theatrical Version are present on the disc. are present on the disc. I have to applaud the decision to keep the 1080p presentations intact and not try to smooth over the naturalistic and grainy cinematography with an overzealous application of digital processing. For the most part, the picture appears quite sharp, well textured, finely detailed and produces a fairly dimensional image. Additionally, there is a gritty; true to life quality to the cinematography that makes the events depicted in the film even more unsettling. Colors appear subdued that helps add a somewhat realistic flavor to the proceedings. Blacks are deep and the whites are stable. Contrast is slightly pushed, which gives an edginess to the visuals, while the picture gets by on a fairly respectable level of shadow detail. The elements from which THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT has been mastered are virtually perfect. Grain is present in varying levels, with the darker sequences demonstration the most noticeable amounts. All in all, these are a highly film like presentations.

THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. In typical horror movie fashion, atmospherics, good sound effects placement and necessary zingers serve to bolster the tension inducing sound design. That said; all of the outlying channels are effectively utilized to support the various components. Sure, this is no show off track, but it works well in the context of the material. Fidelity is really quite strong and is enhanced by the bass channel, which sometimes feels as though it adding insult to the already unsettling visuals. Dialogue is very cleanly rendered and the actors' voices maintain a natural timbre. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some extras. A single three minute Featurette entitled A Look Inside is provided, as are nine minutes Deleted Scenes/Scene Extensions. THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). A Digital Copy of the film is also provided.

The remake of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is an uncomfortable exercise in exploitation horror, with better acting, superior production values and a bit more restraint than the original film. The Blu-ray presentation is extremely good and am happy to report that Universal did not attempt to make the picture look prettier, as it would have worked against the unattractive material.



The Last House on the Left [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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