The Last House on the Left - Arrow Video 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Limited EditionOverview -
Of the many ‘00s horror remakes, Dennis Iliadis’ 2009 version of The Last House on the Left wasn’t the worst or best (and maybe unnecessary), but it’s a devilishly gnarly entertaining piece of sleaze. A great cast works hard to elevate the grotesque over-the-top violence into a watchable revenge fantasy. The remake comes home to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray from Arrow Video with a fresh new Dolby Vision presentation of the Theatrical Cut, solid audio, and excellent bonus features. Unrated Cut only in 1080p. Not for everyone but those interested in upgrading their collections - Worth A Look
The Last House on the Left is a vicious and efficient updating of the 1972 controversial graphic shocker of the same name, produced by its original director/producer pairing of Wes Craven and Sean Cunningham.
When athletic teen Mari Collingwood (Sara Paxton) opts to hang out with her friend Paige in town rather than spend an evening in with her parents vacationing at the family’s remote lake house, it marks the beginning of a night no one is going to forget. The two girls wind up in the company of escaped convict Krug (Garret Dillahunt) and his makeshift family of vile career criminals, who kidnap and brutally assault them before leaving them for dead. Fleeing from the scene of their violent crime during a storm, the thugs inadvertently seek refuge with Mari’s parents, anxious as to why their daughter hasn’t come home yet and primed to unleash the full forces of hell on anyone who would dare to touch so much as a hair on her head.
Energetically directed by Dennis Iliadis from a new script by Carl Ellsworth (Red Eye, Disturbia), this remake of horror cinema’s seminal tale of bloody revenge has been described by Stephen King as “the best horror movie of the new century”.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Following the river of horror remakes in the early aughts, 2009 saw the arrival of a “new” Last House on the Left that wasn't anything resembling an amateur effort of unseasoned actors and filmmakers. Now, the original film was hardly accused of “subtlety” in its era, but this new version practically makes Wes Craven’s classic blush. Krug and Company headlined by Garrett Dillahunt as the diabolical Krug and Tony Goldwyn as the murderously protective father is bloodier and relishes in the violence. This film, like so many remakes, is little more than a photocopy of the original with glitzed-up visuals and gore effects. Not without its own moments, the film does feel hollow as we kick back to gloriously horrifying parental revenge.
As someone who appreciates both entries, I do my best to compartmentalize them and let them stand aside from one another. While the stories are the same their aims are completely different. Wes Craven made his film when the U.S. was just coming out of Vietnam and the horror stories soldiers were bringing home with them were very rich in the cultural mindset. This film is a reaction to the shattering of America’s sense of cultural innocence. Even after David Hess’ Krug and his Company of violent miscreants has committed one of the most horribly depraved acts imaginable, there’s a moment where they have to confront what they’ve just done. There is actual blood on their hands and they briefly can’t reconcile that. And when the parents exact their revenge, it’s bloody and earned.
On the other hand, Dennis Iliadis’ version doesn’t exhibit that kind of pathos. Instead, it leans heavier into the mindset of taking a head for an eye. Exact tenfold onto those who have wronged you – and Tony Goldwyn’s John does just that. Where I feel this film is unjustly dismissed is the extent of the parent’s revenge. Some say it goes too far or is unwarranted to some degree, but what I feel works best is Goldwyn’s John reconciling his past actions. Overly trusting, he didn’t listen to his wife (Monica Potter) and let their daughter have the keys to the car without a second thought. When a group of sketchy strangers appears on his doorstep, he doesn’t think twice about letting them in and providing medical aid. His revenge on these people is just as much his anger at himself unleashed as it is towards Krug. Watching this film again after becoming a father, yeah, I get John’s methods. Maybe not the microwave… but everything else is certainly understandable.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Arrow Video sends The Last House on the Left home to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a two-disc 4K UHD & Blu-ray set. The Theatrical Cut 4K rides in on a BD-100 disc with the Unrated Cut coming in on a Region A BD-50 disc. The discs are housed in a two-disc case with separate trays and are not stacked with reversible insert art and slipcover. Included is a 24-page booklet featuring pictures, cast/crew info, and an essay by Zoe Rose Smith.
On 4K UHD, we see a new Dolby Vision transfer of the Theatrical Cut only for The Last House on the Left. It’s another one of those cases where the slightly longer Unrated Cut is stuck again on 1080p only, so chalk that value up your own way when deciding to pick this one up. The only info given in the notes in the booklet was that this new 4K master was provided by NBC Universal. The last I knew this film was finished on a 2K DI so I don’t know if they conformed a new 4K master or if this isn’t just an upscale with HDR, whichever way they went, it's an impressive effort. To be clear, this is still a very grainy film but that’s by design. It was that way when I saw it in theaters, and remained so when I reviewed the Turbine set from 2022. While improvements aren’t night and day in that arena, they’re notable all the same.
The winning element here is the Dolby Vision HDR grading and how much cleaner black levels and shadows are. The film always had a teal/yellow tone to it and even that looks quite a bit cleaner now. To that point though, reds (namely all of the blood) can be more of a darker rusty red shade. Depth is appreciably improved for a little more image dimension. It’s still a gnarly ugly movie but it’s supposed to be gnarly and ugly and this new transfer excels in that regard.
As for the included 1080p Unrated Version, it’s quite striking on its own scale. Again I can’t figure out why we’re not also getting this on 4K, but that’s been the theme of late for any number of 4K editions. Flipping between discs this transfer appears almost equal to what Turbine offered a year ago with very similar bitrates, details, and black levels. I’m not altogether upset that the Unrated is 1080p only, I like the leaner Theatrical Cut better, but for the fans out there who should have all options available, it’s unfortunate we don’t get both in 4K.
On the audio scale we hear what sounds to be the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix as before but also paired with an LPCM 2.0 mix that more or less just feels redundant. The 2.0 track is fine, but the 5.1 is your better all-around option in my opinion. An Atmos mix would have been quite something once that rain storm kicks in, but like I mentioned in the review for Turbine’s release, flipping on my receiver’s NeuralX function really helps open the space and atmosphere up. Dialog is clean and clear without issues - especially all of the ghastly screams. Sound effects are well positioned so even before the carnage and mayhem begins there’s plenty of activity in the soundscape to keep those surround channels working. The film may not be the most pleasant thing ever but it sounds great!
On the bonus features front I’m pleased to see Arrow dig in for some exciting new extra features. Director Dennis Iliadis gives the film a new introduction that also provides an interesting defense and/or explanation of certain scenes. In addition to that, there’s a solid new audio commentary featuring David Flint and Adrian Smith. The best of the pack I would say are the new cast and crew interviews as each individual gets to offer some personal takes on the material and making the film. There are no extra features on the Unrated Cut disc, unless you consider the Unrated Cut it's own bonus feature. Then we come to the essay by Zoe Rose Smith and it's a very good piece of work, it puts this version of the film into a modern context I hadn't really considered before and I dare say even helped me appreciate this version a little bit more than I already did.
4K UHD Disc:
- Introduction With Director Dennis Iliadis (HD 6:02)
- Audio Commentary featuring David Flint and Adian Smith
- A River of Blood - Interview with Sara Paxton (HD 31:27)
- The Notorious Krug - Interview with Garret Dillahunt (HD 27:10)
- Suspending Disbelief - Interview with Screenwriter Carl Ellsworth (HD 18:26)
- Reviving the Legend - Interview with Jonathan Craven (HD 33:06)
- Look Inside Featurette (HD 2:41)
- Deleted Scenes (SD 8:58)
- Image Gallery
- Zoe Rose Smith Essay
Of the films that could have dropped on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Dennis Iliadis’ 2009 The Last House on The Left wasn’t the first I’d put on the list, but it’s a welcome addition all the same. Not the greatest remake of the ‘00s, but it at least benefitted from having a great cast with Tony Goldwyn and Garret Dillahunt going toe-to-toe for a gnarly revenge exploitation feature. Not one to pull off the shelf all that often but the violent parental revenge fantasy is certainly satisfying. Arrow gives The Last House on the Left remake a fitting 4K UHD release offering up a downright excellent Dolby Vision HDR transfer for the Theatrical Cut. A true shame both cuts aren’t given the same treatment, but the audio is impressive and there are plenty of informative and worthwhile bonus features to dig into. With only one cut of the film on 4K, this is going to appeal to a very select few, and for that reason - Worth A Look
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