The Last House on the Left


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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”.

Picture 8/10

Arrow Video releases Dennis Iliadis’ The Last House on the Left (a remake of Wes Craven’s debut feature) in a new 2-disc limited edition. The theatrical version is presented in 4K ultra high-definition (2160p/24hz) on a triple-layer disc with Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible). Arrow also includes a high-definition presentation (1080p/24hz) of the unrated version found on a standard dual-layer Blu-ray disc. Both versions are presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1, with the masters being supplied by Universal. Visual Data Media Services performed the HDR grading for the 4K presentation.

I can’t directly compare this 4K presentation (or the high-def one for the unrated version) and Universal’s Blu-ray, which I saw when it first came out way-back-when (I rented it from a Hollywood Video!). Still, based on other high-def masters of the period, it’s doubtful it comes close to this presentation's quality, which looks undeniably good.

The film was shot on 35mm, but it does appear it was ultimately assembled digitally and output as a 2K digital intermediate, which I would then have to guess was the source for the 4K presentation here (and I need to emphasize that I’m guessing since Arrow’s notes mention next to nothing about the master they were supplied). If that is the case, and the 4K presentation is ultimately an upscale, I’m happy to say it doesn’t show. Detail levels are extraordinary, with the finer ones jumping out, from threading in clothing to pores on faces (to the chagrin of the actors, I’m sure). The fine grain is also rendered incredibly, though it can look messy in a few exterior nighttime shots. I suspect in those instances it’s baked into the master, or even the original photography, and not something to do with Arrow’s encode.

Dolby Vision and HDR also do a lot here, helping primarily during the film’s nighttime climax. Shadows look deep and rich, delivering better depth within the image, and highlights look sharp. I liked how single-light sources, including flashlights and lightning flashes, would also break through the dark. It reflects gorgeously off surfaces (especially metal and water), and the gradations between the darker and brighter ends of the field are super clean. Black levels are also very strong, but there are a handful of shots (usually where the grain looks a little off) where the blacks can look muddy. Again, I suspect it’s baked into the source.

The Unrated version, presented only in high-definition, looks excellent itself, showing many of the same attributes the theatrical version features when it comes to detail and such (though grain is admittedly not as clean). Contrast is admittedly weaker, which is to be expected, but it does flatten the image out a bit during the darker climax. Despite that, it looks perfectly fine, just not as good as the 4K presentation. I can't say why it isn't presented here in 4K, as I think it would have looked wonderful, but I’m guessing the licensing agreement with Universal didn’t allow it.

At the very least, the theatrical presentation looks excellent.

Audio 8/10

The film’s 5.1 audio soundtrack (presented in DTS-HD MA) delivers a very effective mix. The opening crash and the handful of action-oriented sequences scattered about effectively use the surround channels and the lower frequency. The film’s climax, which involves rain, thunder, and lots of screaming, efficiently delivers the more impressive moments with vast dynamic range. Dialogue and music also sound sharp and crisp, and there is no excessive filtering.

Extras 8/10

I had low expectations going into the features for this release, but I’m happy to say I came out pleasantly surprised by them. I was most surprised by the audio commentary (included with the theatrical version) featuring film scholars David Flint and Adrian Smith. I expected the two to compare this remake to the original (probably unfavorably) and little more than that. Unsurprisingly, that happens with some good observations about what does and doesn't work for both films, but the track focuses on the remake on its own terms, drawing attention to its strengths and weaknesses. They think it is a well-directed film, getting into its look, pacing, and tension-building, also appreciating how Iliadis ultimately handles the film’s most controversial and violent moment. They even look at the movie in the context of the horror film remakes coming out at the time (early to mid-2000s), following a wave of graphic horror films dubbed “torture porn,” which were incredibly popular for the time. It probably would have been easy for anyone to come in and dismiss it or just compare it to the original for the entire runtime. Yet the two talk about the film on its own merits and offer a fantastic appreciation that got me to look at it differently. That said, they do admit the film’s final shot almost ruins everything good that came before.

Moving on, Arrow has also impressively managed to gather a few members of the cast and crew to talk about the film, including actors Sara Paxton (31 minutes) and Garret Dillahunt (27 minutes), screenwriter Carl Ellsworth (18 minutes) and producer Jonathan Craven (33 minutes), son of Wes. I rather liked Paxton’s and Dillahunt’s contributions, the two separately recalling their casting and how they worked together, including working out how to handle the film’s most violent sequence. The two also talk about their background and how they got into acting, Paxton’s being a bit amusing. Interestingly, the two worked together previously on a pilot that didn't get picked up (Paxton says it was a remake of Mr. Ed, and a small part of me is sad it didn't get picked up).

Ellsworth explains how he came to write the updated version of the film (despite never having seen the original initially) and why he made the changes he did. Craven talks about how and why his father started looking at doing a remake (despite a fear it may overshadow his original one), which came about after the successful remake of The Hills Have Eyes. There was some hesitation, though, due to the film’s subject matter (with debate on whether they excise the film’s rape sequence entirely), but that sounds to have eased after they felt they found a crew of people (including Ellsworth and Iliadis) who would approach it all appropriately. Craven also talks about his father’s work to a small extent, even recalling when he was working on the original The Last House on the Left (though his dad would not let him see any footage from it).

Amusingly, a common theme through the interviews is a certain amount of disgust around the film’s ending, Craven being the most direct in addressing his hate for it. Ellsworth takes credit for it, though he intended it to be a filler until they came up with something “better.” In a brief 6-minute introduction (that can be played separately or optionally before watching the film), director Dennis Iliadis also mentions it and admits he’s not fond of it but feels some audiences probably gained some small amount of satisfaction from it. As to why it’s there even if everyone hated it, it sounds as though Universal greenlit the film solely for that ending and were the ones that demanded it stay. Sadly, they had to bend to the studio’s whims since they were putting up the money, including having to deliver an R-rated film, which Craven does cover in his interview.

And on that note, I’ll mention the inclusion of the Unrated version (in high-definition on the second disc), which appears to be exclusive to this limited edition. Based on Craven’s comments about dealing with the MPAA, I suspect this version is simply the original one they submitted, knowing they’d be doing further trims. It runs 4-minutes longer, but not all of that is graphic footage, with Flint and Smith suggesting in their commentary that the graphic footage may total just over a minute. From what I could see, there are a few additional shots here and there, including alternate shots and alternate edits, but most of them are fairly mundane. The sequence in the woods plays out a little differently, but the most significant change here is probably the rape sequence, which is a little more graphic and feels longer, even though it’s technically only a few seconds. Surprisingly, I don’t think any of the violence in the film’s last section is different, though I could be mistaken.

Ultimately, I prefer the theatrical version as I don't think any of the additional material adds much to the film, with the theatrical cut feeling a bit tighter.

The remaining material looks to be ported from Universal’s previous release, with it all mostly being useless. There are about 9 minutes worth of deleted scenes, most of which can be considered fat being trimmed, though there is a reasonably funny blooper. There is also an alternate version of the film’s ending, which appears to be an attempt to do it in what looks to be one take. Following that is the film’s trailer, a small image gallery (consisting of production photos), and a 3-minute promotional featurette that is basically the trailer cut with excerpts from interviews with director Dennis Iliadis and producers Wes Craven and Sean Cunningham. Arrow also includes a booklet featuring an essay by Zoë Rose Smith, who writes about how the film updates Craven’s original and probably deals with the subject matter in a better manner (it’s entitled “The Last House on the Left (2009): Desexualizing and Humanizing a Controversial Classic”).

The material ported over from the previous edition doesn’t add much, but Arrow has done an exceptional job with their new, exclusive material. The new interviews were great, and the commentary made for a fascinating listen. It’s a surprisingly solid set of material.


Arrow has put together a rather impressive special edition for the film, delivering satisfying and engaging new features alongside a sharp-looking 4K presentation.


Directed by: Dennis Iliadis
Year: 2009
Time: 113 | 110 min.
Series: Arrow Video
Licensor: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: September 12 2023
MSRP: $49.95
4K UHD Blu-ray/Blu-ray
2 Discs | BD-50/UHD-100
1.85:1 ratio
English 2.0 PCM Stereo
English 5.1 DTS-HD MA Surround
Subtitles: English
Regions A/None
HDR: HDR10 [Extended Cut] ,  Dolby Vision [Extended Cut] ,  HDR10 [Theatrical Cut] ,  Dolby Vision [Theatrical Cut]
 Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Zoë Rose Smith   4K (2160p) Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation in Dolby Vision (HDr10 compatible) of the original Theatrical Version of the film   Exclusive new filmed introduction by director Dennis Iliadis   Brand new audio commentary by David Flint and Adrian J. Smith   A River of Blood, a new 31-minute interview with Sara Paxton   The Notorious Krug, a new 27-minute interview with actor Garret Dillahunt   Suspending Disbelief, a new 18-minute interview with screenwriter Carl Ellsworth   Reviving the Legend, a new 33-minute interview with producer Jonathan Craven   Look Inside Featurette, from the films original 2009 release   Deleted scenes   Theatrical trailer   Image gallery