2003, Movie, NR, 0 mins


Wes Craven, call your lawyer. Not only is writer-director David DeFalco using THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT's now-classic tagline ("Keep repeating, 'It's only a movie. It's only a movie...'"), but he's appropriated the plot as well. UCLA freshman Angelica (Maya Barovich) and her younger best friend, Emily (Chantal Degroat), are on their way to a rave deep in the woods of rural California. Hoping to score some ecstasy, they allow themselves to be lured into the den of Chaos (Kevin Gage, ex-husband of actress Kelly Preston; he's currently serving time for growing weed) and his merry band of homicidal miscreants: sex-crazed sidekick Freddie (Stephen Wozniak); junkie gal-pal Daisy (K.C. Kelly) and Chaos' lamebrained son, Swan (Sage Stallone). When Angelica and Emily attempt to escape, a sadistic game of cat-and-mouse ensues. As night falls, Emily's parents, Leo (Scott Richards) and Justine (Deborah Lacey), begin to worry. Emily's cell phone rings and rings, and when her curfew rolls around and the girls still aren't home, Leo and Justine call Officer Whitley (Ken Medlock), a racist who seems more interested in the fact that Leo is married to a black woman than in the missing teenager. Meanwhile, back in the woods, Chaos and company have had their fun and pile into Chaos' battered van. The plan is to head to L.A., but when the van doesn't start, they knock on the first door they see, not realizing that they're stepping into the home of Emily's parents. DeFalco's screenplay is allegedly based on an "original idea" he concocted with producer Steven Jay Bernheim, a bit of truth-stretching that's quite fitting. Craven himself never gave Ingmar Bergman the onscreen credit he deserved, given that Craven lifted the plot of LAST HOUSE from the Swedish director's 1960 fable THE VIRGIN SPRING. Unlike so many other LAST HOUSE rip-offs, this virtual remake is reasonably well shot and convincingly acted; the special effects make the film's considerable brutality difficult to laugh off. And while he duplicates LAST HOUSE's plot, DeFalco doesn't try to copy Craven's moves. In fact, the only bit of homage to savage '70s exploitation movies comes at the very beginning, when a scrolling intro disingenuously asks us to accept this cautionary tale as a warning to parents and would-be hitchhikers, contending that its graphic but necessary violence might in fact help save lives. Right. Now cue the chainsaw. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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