The Last House on the Left



Grim, vengeful horror film well made -- but NOT for kids.
Popular with kids
  • Review Date: March 11, 2009
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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.


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.


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).


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.

Not applicable
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.

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.

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 -- 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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:March 13, 2009
DVD release date:August 18, 2009
Cast:Garret Dillahunt, Monica Potter, Tony Goldwyn
Director:Dennis Iliadis
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sadistic brutal violence including a rape and disturbing images, language, nudity and some drug use

This review of The Last House on the Left was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 11 and 13 year old Written byCommon critic January 21, 2011

Boring movie

Me and my daughter watched this movie then my son watched it on HBO later.I rate this 3 stars because of not the stuff it has in there but because it really wasn't a good daughter thought it too disturbing and boring.I thought it was no good at all.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent Written byFilmcritic95 March 20, 2014


One that should only be seen by adults, 18 and up. The film does have nudity but not as much as other films. The acting and believe ability is very strong besides Sarah Paxton's performance. There's very realistic hardcore and gory violence that is real life looking, there's swearing that may offend parents or other adults. The story centers around a family's daughter who was almost killed by a group of serial killers and is extremely injured. While trying to take care of their daughter the mother and the father decide to get revenge on the killers for what they did. The message is great for parents to see what could happen to their child if they're not careful enough or responsible enough to care for them. It has a great message for parents and adults. But it is not to be seen by kids. Parents should wait until their child has turned 18 to see this movie.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Parent Written byMelanie Williams September 26, 2012

Not For Children

The Last House On the Left is a great film but does consist of very horrific events. Such as sexual assault, blood and gore and the terrifying truth that events such as these do happen in today's economy. It is definitely not a film for children, I have learnt that the hard way from letting my 15 year old daughter view the movie, and as a result she was quite disturbed by the occurrences in the film. But If you are an adult and enjoy a good horror/slasher movie this one really leaves you hanging off the edge of your seat!


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