The Wes Craven canon is enjoying a resurgence thanks to the remake culture of Hollywood (what’s old is new again as long as nobody’s paying attention). Nightmarish brutality trumps supernatural thrills in this tale about a family that encounters a crew of murderous felons while on vacation at a lake house. The deck is evenly stacked. A doctor (Tony Goldwyn) and his wife (Monica Potter) make the getaway with their swimmer daughter Mari (Sara Paxton); all are still quietly grieving the loss of older son Ben. On the dark side, there’s recently escaped convict Krug (Garrett Dillahunt), his bloodthirsty girlfriend (Riki Lindhome) and hotheaded brother Francis (Aaron Paul), along with his son Justin who’s not quite as eager to join the family business.
A real hint of torture porn factors into the visuals from director Dennis Iliadis (Hardcore), but beneath all the squeamish moments is a truly frightening story that pulls audiences in because it gives into the family’s growing sense of revenge and their ability to take matters into their own hands. With talk of Scream 4 buzzing about, Craven would do well to forgo tongue-in-cheek and explore his own past successes. The family that slays together might draw legions of fans to The Last House on the Left. Grade: C