Straw Dogs (2011)
An up and coming LA screenwriter decides to move south to his wife’s hometown of Mississippi hoping the peace and quiet of country life will be a better environment for his work. Some of the locals however, share a much different point of view and start trouble that soon escalates out of control.
Well, here we go again down remake road with STRAW DOGS but thankfully this is a film that most people haven’t heard of (myself included). Before I realized it was a remake my interest level was minimal because it looked and felt like so many other films all jammed into one, but seeing as how the original Sam Peckinpah directed version came out in nineteen seventy-one, long before some of the film I was going to compare this to originally, going in with an open mind became a little easier. That said it’s still a catch twenty-two because for its few good qualities (directing, lush locale, tight cast) it’s still a remake at the end of the day and as much as I dig most of the roster, these characters suffer from one bad decision after another making the whole story one big mess.
I had hope for this film because of James Marsden and Alexander Skarsgard. Marsden is an underrated favourite actor of mine and remake or no, this was still better than seeing him in HOP. Skarsgard is definitely one of the coolest aspects of TRUE BLOOD. I was looking forward to seeing what he could do outside of Fangtasia and wasn’t disappointed. Though a villain to be sure, he at least had a couple layers to him so that people wouldn’t just label this character as a human version of his vampire counterpart. I had no idea James Woods was even in this film and although I didn’t agree with anything his off the wall hillbilly character was about, his presence was the glue that held this cast together as other than him, we have Kate Bosworth (not impressed with her work whatsoever) and an even less impressive waste of Dominic Purcell and Walton Goggins’ time.
The story could’ve worked and maybe did in the original, but I’m just not buying what these characters are selling. Bosworth clearly didn’t want to go back to her inbred hick town, and after seeing it in full force I can’t say I blame her. As a writer I can see Marsden’s character thinking it might be a good place to kick back and soak in his creative juices, but seeing how unimpressed and worried his wife is the entire ride there I just can’t bring myself to believe they had a convincing conversation about it. Add to that how predictable this setup is from minute one, every cliche in the book pops up here at some point, and what’s worse is no matter how dire, dangerous and in-your-face this growing problem gets with each passing day, it takes them until the end of the film to actually react to it.
STRAW DOGS is remotely entertaining if you turn off your brain and don’t think about it too much. For one, I know the original came out before THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and COLD CREEK MANOR, but for me the combination of those two films is about in essence what we have here. I know the film’s focal point revolves around them being stuck in that house fighting for their lives (a fact the trailers made no attempt to hide) but I didn’t like how they got there, it’s weak and unbelievable despite the rise in tension. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I didn’t care for how Bosworth handles her part in this either, her character comes off as not just a bad wife but a bad person which ultimately hurts the impact of one of the pivotal scenes before the climax. Bottom line, I didn’t like her so I didn’t care and that’s a bad thing given the circumstances. The final bloody battle was far too brief but ended with a bang. Based on this film, I wouldn’t personally go looking for the original and though watchable, this STRAW DOGS is definitely rental territory.