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Movie Review

The Last House on the Left

MPAA Rating: R for sadistic brutal violence including a rape and disturbing images, language, nudity and some drug use.

Reviewed by: Matthew Wood

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Horror, Thriller, Remake
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
March 13, 2009 (wide—2,300 theaters)
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Rogue Pictures


The final judgment of God

Judgments of God

Rape victims stories

Shame and Rape

VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

NUDITY—Why are humans supposed to wear clothes? Answer

Featuring: Sara Paxton, Monica Potter, Tony Goldwyn, Garret Dillahunt, Michael Bowen, Joshua Cox, Riki Lindhome, Aaron Paul, Martha MacIsaac, Spencer Treat Clark, Usha Khan
Director: Dennis Iliadis
Producer: Rogue Pictures, Midnight Entertainment, Greig Buckle, Jonathan Craven, Wes Craven, Sean S. Cunningham, Ray Haboush, Marianne Maddalena, Bryan Thomas, Cody Zwieg
Distributor: Rogue Pictures

“If bad people hurt someone you love, how far would you go to hurt them back?”

The trailer led me to believe that the backdrop of the original film—“The Virgin Spring”—and the 1972 version of “Last House on the Left” is still intact, however the movie is amped up to 21st century horror moviemaking standards. It is clear from the previews that this movie is not for everyone. There are a few things you have to bear in mind before making the decision to go see this movie. This movie is more about making audiences cringe and question their morals—rather, more true to what horror is truly about—than it is about disgusting people with blood, guts, and gore, or frightening them with special effects and various scare tactics. With all this in mind, buckle up, and prepare for a thrill ride that delivers.

What makes this movie different than the 1972 version is how it starts. Krug is on his way to a maximum security prison when his brother, Giles, and Sadie crash into the cop car he was a passenger in. After a couple brutal acts of murder, we are introduced to the Collingwood family, who are wrapping things up to go away to their lake house for the summer.

Once there, a few scenes later, Mari is shown stripping to her underwear and jumping into the lake. Later, she is shown getting dressed. (These shots were the beginning of the little nudity in the movie).

After, these scenes Mari heads into town to meet up with her friend Paige—who Mari’s parents aren’t two fond of, and we see later why. Again parallels are made to the 1972 film where Paige (Phyllis in the ’72 version) goes to score some marijuana, only this time they are brought back to a hotel, and Krug and crew are not there.

After a scene of drug use, the movie takes off: Krug and crew return, become suspicious of the girls, and figure that they have to dispose of them. Mari and Paige put up a good fight, which leads to Paige getting killed and Mari raped. The rape scene is not graphic nor is it overbearing, however it still made me sick to my stomach.

Sex was made by God so that man and woman could procreate. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that sex is allowed by force, afterall, force is not love, nor is it God-designed.

Besides this rape scene, I had a hard time watching the times Mari and Paige were assaulted. Later in the film, a bare-breasted Sadie fights with Dr. Collingwood. These scenes, where a woman is being beaten seemed, to me, to be overdone—which is common in movies today.

What ensues for the rest of the film is an attempt to answer the movie’s tagline: “If bad people hurt someone you love, how far would you go to hurt them back?”

That question alone is the main problem with this movie. The acting is not bad, the cinematography is not bad, the soundtrack is great, the writing is mediocre, however that question is what destroyed this movie, for me. In Exodus 20:13, God commands that we should not murder, and later Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-2: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For the way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Dr. Collingwood encouraged his wife that they must be prepared to do anything to exact revenge upon Mari’s attackers. He made the conscience decision to become the law, the judge, and the executioner, which is all against what God commands us to do.

Goodness is the courage to do the right thing. In taking revenge, Dr. and Emma Collingwood showed that they were as bad as those who hurt their daughter. When they took matters into their own hands, they not only hurt the criminals severely, they mangled, mauled, shot them, and utterly destroyed them. Which I think, I think was really the writer’s attempt try and out-do what has already been done lately in movies—and previously in the 1972 version. You get what you pay for with this movie.

This movie is far from what the Bible teaches about allowing God to judge the wicked. Some parents nowadays may believe it is alright to go to the lengths Dr. and Emma Collingwood did, however, Christians look forward to the day when Christ will come again and handle such wickedness for us. He is the beginning and the end, the judge and friend.

“The Last House on the Left” is far from a Christian film, and is definitely not a movie to take kids to—let alone watch when it comes out on DVD. I suppose “The Last House on the Left” is a good movie for what it is—a horror movie. Perhaps it could be used as a conversation starter about the best parent of all: God. But again, this movie is not for everyone; at times it is hard to watch.

Editor’s Note: Bottomline—This extremely offensive movie is definitely one for followers of Jesus Christ to avoid.

Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem?

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Negative—This movie had such a realistic rape scene, it almost made me cry… And I am a guy. This film is so dehumanizing, it is sick. Sure at the way end of the movie the 3 criminals get stabbed in the head, shot in the head, and one of their heads exploded. I saw an hour and a half of the sickest world possible—a world… I wish I didn’t live in. It was not that it was the most violent movie I… ever saw, but the violence and the rape were so realistic and sadistic and devastating. I don’t ever think I’ll view the world the same. Awful movie. Save your mind from being contaminated from everything that could contaminate it in the sickest fashion. Folks this film was very back yard realistic, make sure you think twice about hurting your soul watching girls being raped and stabbed.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Luke, age 19 (USA)
Negative—In this world where one is constantly bombarded by images of violence whether it be locally, or nationally I believe no one should subject their mind, emotion, or will to this graphic violence. Movies, like music have tremendous effect upon your mind therefore be judicious if you decide to view this movie because I felt it was a lot of wasted lives and I don’t consider this type of movie to be entertaining at all. If I were an actor or actress, and this is what I needed to do to advance my career I would remain poor.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Veronica, age 54 (Canada)
Negative—I went into this movie with a bunch of friends, thinking it would be a good horror movie. I was very disappointed, and ended up leaving part way through it.

The rape scene in this movie was so realistic that it made me sick to my stomach, and I had to run out of the theater. I don’t understand why movie makers put that sort of stuff in movies for people to see. It not only horrified me, but left an impression on me that really scared me.

I regret seeing this movie and I do not recommend it. Especially as a Christian, its not something that you’d want in your mind.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Angie, age 18 (USA)
Negative—If you are a Christian I strongly recommend that you do not see this movie. I walked out when they graphically killed a teenage girl and then brutally raped her friend. This movie crossed the line of entertainment and story telling into a perverse snuff film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Barry Madosky, age 45 (USA)
Negative—This is probably the most disgusting, vile, degrading piece of trash that I have ever had the displeasure to sit through in a theatre.

The material is based on Ingmar Bergman’s THE VIRGIN SPRING. That film has strong spiritual undertones that justify the ugly scenes that we have to endure, so that we may see the bigger picture of redemption at the end. In the context of THE VIRGIN SPRING, the graphic nature of the rape is necessary. As it is presented in THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, it is nothing more than pure exploitation that ultimately does not lead to anything that would warrant such a scene. The overall effect of that disgusting, perverse, gratuitous rape scene pervades the rest of the film, and in the end there is no real pay off. Yes, we want the parents to have revenge. I was rooting for mom and dad all the way. However, it was only after that I had finished the film that I questioned everything that I had seen. Gone was the moral center that made THE VIRGIN SPRING such a powerful experience to sit through. In Bergman’s film, God’s grace and forgiveness intersect through the darkness. The film ends with a natural miracle. The film ends with forgiveness. This one does not. This one ends with a man’s head exploding in a microwave.

What you have here is a film that rubs your face in murder and rape for forty minutes, so that it can come to a stupid conclusion such as that.

I stormed out of the theatre in a rage. DO NOT see this film. See THE VIRGIN SPRING instead.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Steven Adam Renkovish, age 26 (USA)
Positive—Didn’t any one of you folks bother to read or listen to the reviews of this film? What were you all expecting to see? It clearly states on the MPAA rating, inside the rectangular box at the bottom of the poster, exactly what this movie was going to show. …Some of my friends were not going to see this movie because they knew what is was about. So I was the brave one to see it. I will say I did enjoy this movie. Far better than the original. As a father of two, I was definitely rooting for the parents all the way. Who honestly can say that if you were in their shoes, you wouldn’t think about exacting some revenge on the perps that raped and left your daughter out there to die? Yes the microwave scene was probably a little bit too much, but I did enjoy it nonetheless. Good movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Noel, age 32 (USA)
Neutral—Since I own the original Craven film “The Last House on the Left,” I naturally was quite excited to see the remake in theaters. However, it was a disappointment. The screenplay is excellent; I am glad they made the changes they did, as I don’t think any remake should be too close to its original work, just as I don’t think any book-to-film adaptation should ever be too close to the original novel. The changes they made were mostly to adapt the story to a modern setting instead of a 1970’s setting, and it worked.

However, the actors were not at all satisfying. They were composite characters. Mari and Phyllis became Teenage Girl #1 and Teenage Girl #2, while Krug, Sadie, and Weasel became Villain, Female Sidekick, and Male Sidekick. And Mari’s parents became Very Normal American Doctor Dad and Extremely Normal American Mom. It was disappointing, to say the least. When one can’t connect to the characters, whether it is to hate them or love them, one cannot get emotionally involved. And when one is emotionally uninvolved, the movie begins to feel more like an exercise than a story. It was a decent exercise, I’ll give it that. But it just didn’t cut it.

The content. Despite there being LESS nudity than the original, it actually felt more gratuitous. This is because it presents nudity as a shameful little: “Oh, got to have some nudity to please fans,” while the original showed the nudity as part of the story. The rape scene is graphic in this remake—very graphic, in fact. Likely you will be tremendously disturbed. However, it adopts a glossy tone that I think helps it slide into the R-rated category, and it harms the film. Once again, it feels more like an exercise than an actual part of the story, and it feels very uncomfortable while in the original the scene felt truly horrific. And rape IS horrific.

While the nudity and sexual content was toned down slightly for the remake, the violence was amped up, especially in the last act when the parents take revenge on the rapists. There are some really gory parts, so be wary of those if you have a weak stomach.

In the end, I was a bit underwhelmed. The movie felt like it was trying to be its own story, and it felt like the director was trying to lead it in that direction, but the actors let it down by playing stereotypes. This story comes from a 14th-century Swedish folktale. Wes Craven’s “The Last House on the Left” managed to evoke that storytelling feeling while also presenting an unflinchingly realistic portrait of a horrific event. This remake goes too much for the realism and too little for the folktale feeling, and it ends up with too little of both.

Bottomline: Not a bad film, but not a good one, either. Unsettling content that will disgust you, but will fail to move you as it should. Maybe horror fans will be pleased, but fans of the original won’t be, and mainstream audiences definitely won’t be.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—JM, age 18 (USA)
Positive—Okay, I am giving this movie “Positive” not because of its morality (which is terrible) but for its quality of film. Characters are believable, the camera work was done well an the film isn’t ever slow. Now, with that said, there are a lot of problems with "The Last House on the Left". First and foremost is the rape scene, while not overly graphic it is extremely disturbing and I HATE rape. The scariest part for me was not what was going on on the screen, but knowing that this sort of thing happens in the real world every day. That’s what gets to me. The violence is brutal, but a lot less graphic and bloody than I would have thought (except for the last bad guy’s demise.) Lots of smacking, puching, kicking and some blood involved, with some other violence with knives and such. Brutal, that’s what it is. This film earns a hard R and should not be viewed by anyone under 18. I’m barely there, and I was shocked.

The theme of revenge is so justified in this film that even as a Christian it’s hard to remind myself that revenge is the Lord’s, not mine. After what they do to that girl, I would seriously be ready to kill. That is the second biggest problem with this movie, it promotes revenge very effectively and keeps you rooting for the parents. Not good. For those who can take brutality, this movie is probably a one-timer. It’s effective in its portrayal of violence and malice, but it’s not really a thriller or a horror film and it’s really just…it’s hard to explain, but I probably won’t ever be seeing it again.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Benjamin Badger, age 18 (USA)
Positive—…I thought this was an excellent movie to see, and I usually only see romance/comedies. All the characters were excellent in their roles and gave great performances. Also the story was well written.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Joan, age 38 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
My husband and I, 23 year old daughter and her boyfriend just came from leaving the movie you reviewed entitled, “The Last House on the Left.” Though I appreciate your site and your review of the movie, I believe that you did not go far enough in your criticism of the movie. We left when it appeared that a rape of an under age girl was going to take place, they had previously indicated that this girl was only l7 and that it was going to be done by an older man, a father, in front of his younger son. I think that you should definitely indicate that this movie is a big NO for families of any kind and a BIG no for any one under l8 and even more so for any one who has a connection to the Spirit of God. My daughter and I felt sick to our stomachs and very troubled when we left. We discussed it and how it made us feel to the men who were with us, but honestly, this is not a movie to recommend by pointing out its GOOD parts.

Sad commentary indeed when we find anything right about a movie like that in which women are not respected, are beaten and abused and raped by men as part of a “story” about what??? Defending those we love? Hardly a good example of that… we can defend them much better by not making movies like this to example abuse and by not going to movies like this or recommending them to others.
—Diane Freeman, adult