The Last House on the Left

Movie review by
James Rocchi, Common Sense Media
The Last House on the Left Movie Poster Image
Grim, vengeful horror film well made -- but NOT for kids.
  • R
  • 2009
  • 100 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 26 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 25 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

While the film is ultimately about a father and mother punishing those who've hurt their daughter -- with several characters making important ethical and moral choices -- the film is deeply violent and frightening, with no concrete positive messages.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Even though the parents' rage and grief is somewhat understandable, none of the movie's characters act in a way that you'd want anyone imitating.

Violence

Brutal, bloody violence, including graphic stabbings and shootings, fist fights, a graphic (and protracted) rape, scuffling, falls, murder by hammer, a man's hand being wedged into an operating garbage disposal, a woman being burned with a cigarette lighter, and a man's head being exploded by being heated in a microwave while he's alive. Bloody depictions of impromptu surgery, wound cauterization, and medical care. Car crashes. A man is strangled with a seat belt, and another character is shot, point-blank, through the eye. Constant depictions of agony, suffering, and brutality.

Sex

Some topless female nudity, and lingering shots of female characters in underwear. Sexual activity mixed with violence (including harrowing depictions of painfully realistic rape and assault).

Language

Constant stream of strong and obscene language, including "f--k," "motherf----r," "c--t," "s--t," "balls," "screw," "whore," "jerk off," "piss," "crap," "goddamn," and much more.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters smoke marijuana and drink beer, wine, and hard liquor. One character suggests that she doesn't smoke pot anymore because of her athletic aspirations but winds up smoking anyway. An attempt to buy marijuana results in assault, rape, and murder.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this gory remake of the 1972 exploitation horror "classic" is absolutely not for kids (or anyone with a weak stomach), whether you watch the unrated version available on DVD or the theatrical version reviewed here. It's a nonstop barrage of bleak, terrifying, realistic, and raw scenes of sexual assault, bloody murder, and sadistic violence. And unlike many other horror films, where a supernatural entity is behind the bloodletting, here it's perfectly average people committing horrible crimes and acts of vengeance. Next to this bloodbath, the swearing, drinking, sex, and drug use may seem less egregious, but they're there all the same.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bygreengobbie June 21, 2010

Not scary, but very violent!

I actually liked it. A well-written suspense thriller. Although brutally violent and disturbing, it's actually thriller. Common Sense got it wrong by calli... Continue reading
Adult Written bycallofduty5 October 17, 2011

Last house on the left (2009)

First off this is not for kids, it's graphic sadistic violence, rape, sexual content and drug use and intensive continous scenes of intense peril and dange... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byYeah. February 27, 2011

Check out my page for other great recommendations.

I'm not here to give a review because if it shows up on my page its a 5 star movie and so therefore you know what i think about it.
Teen, 14 years old Written byslasher23 September 5, 2010
not for kids

What's the story?

In THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, Emma (Monica Potter) and John Collingwood (Tony Goldwyn) and their daughter Mari (Sara Paxton) get away to their isolated vacation home. When Mari steps out to see a friend, the two go on an ill-advised pot-buying expedition -- which brings them into the orbit of four drifters led by escaped criminal Krug (Garrett Dillahunt). The girls are assaulted; one is stabbed to death, the other raped and left for dead. The four perpetrators, trapped by a storm, make their way to the nearest home to take shelter ... where Emma and John are glad to help, until they realize what their new guests have done to their daughter.

Is it any good?

Compared to the slick, sick giddy amorality of other horror remakes like Friday the 13th and Prom Night, this update of the 1972 movie by the same name is simultaneously better and worse. It's better in that it's superbly shot and wholly committed to an exploration of the moral and psychic cost of violence, and worse in that it depicts that violence in the most brutal terms imaginable. Director Dennis Iliadis knows exactly what he's doing, and the film has a painful sense of tension in the depiction of its very rough stuff.

When Emma and John decide to embark on their course of revenge, we're completely on board with them -- and completely terrified of what that decision may cost them. There aren't many glib, guilt-free moments of excitement here; every moment of violence is fraught with dread and grim brutality. And yet there's a humanity to The Last House on the Left -- a moral awareness and core -- that many other horror films lack. Like the brilliant Funny Games, The Last House on the Left is nearly impossible to like or enjoy, but it's hard not to admire and appreciate its vision, complexity, and willingness to be what it is.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of seeing so many violent images on the screen. Are movies like this scarier than those that feature supernatural or other over-the-top villains? Why or why not?

  • What about the fact that the camera doesn't cut away from any of the brutal acts? How does that compare to other horror movies?

  • Do you have any sympathy for the parents who are seeking to punish the criminals who victimized their daughter, or is their bloodlust as irredeemable as that of the movie's "bad guys"?

Movie details

For kids who love scares

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