There should be a rule.
I think we’ve all come to accept that remakes are a part of the modern cinematic landscape, an inescapable and near-bottomless source of material for today’s film makers. Frankly, I’m OK with that, to a point. There have been a few remakes that have been great. A few that have been horrible. A few in between. But there should be a rule.
Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs is not his finest film — that honor goes, in my view, to The Wild Bunch, though I wouldn’t fight you over your choice. Regardless, Straw Dogs is an unusual, disturbing, fascinating and grueling experience, and to this day it can spark endless debate. The performances in it are excellent, and however morally questionable and/or repellent people may find it, it’s still a remarkable achievement. This is one of those films I’d have figured would fall under the rule of “thou shalt not remake the classics.”
And yet, that’s what Rod Lurie has done. To his credit, he assembled a serviceable cast — James Marsden, Kate Bosworth (who looks to actually be acting in this), Alexander Skarsgård, James Woods, and Walton Goggins. But it still feels ultimately hollow.
Marsden seems fine, and I suppose Skaarsgaararad is suitably menacing. But the whole thing feels more Last House On The Left than Straw Dogs. Maybe it’s the way the trailer is cut, maybe it’s the choice of scenes. But this just looks so… simple. Boring. Tired.
Maybe we’ll be surprised.