Have you ever seen a movie and wondered how the hell it got made? How in the world respectable actors signed onto it? Why anyone would go to see it – even if it was a free screening? These were my thoughts as I watched Straw Dogs unfold. The film was a remake of the 1971 dark and gritty classic directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring Dustin Hoffman.
This version of Straw Dogs changes some minor details from the original. We’re now in Mississippi instead of England, and David Sumner is no longer a mathematician. He is now a screenwriter working on a project about World War II. The most memorable component stays intact though – the bear trap. As soon as it’s placed above the mantle, you know it’s going to be used in the final scene – even if you haven’t see the original. It’s like the quintessential shotgun in any backwoods country thriller. It’s not there just for looks.
The film tells the story of David (James Marsden) and Amy Sumner (Kate Bosworth), a Hollywood screenwriter and his actress wife, who move back to her hometown in Mississippi. Cue the impending and predictable horror storyline of living in the South with crazy rednecks (including Alexander Skarsgård) and neighbors who don’t lock their doors. It all leads up to a violent confrontation that requires David and Amy to stand up for themselves in order to stay alive.
I’m honestly not even sure what director/writer/producer Rod Lurie was trying to accomplish. The characters are not consistent in their traits, there’s weird juxtaposing throughout the film that makes absolutely no sense (not even to overly pretentious film majors that want to theorize about what the deeper meaning is), and then we have scenes that are just abandoned with no consequence or follow-through. All I could do was just sit there completely engulfed in my own confusion as movie-goers around me continually yelled ‘WHAT?!’
My thoughts precisely.
It was suggested to me that the situations in the film try the characters, pulling at them and building tension – thus changing their behavior. Can I just say that’s not what is going down here. Let’s not try to attach a deeper meaning to it. It’s not psychological warfare. It’s a remake that tried to out do the original in terms of being unsettling and upping the psychological ante. The result? An embarrassing attempt that left audiences feeling like they just saw what should have been a straight-to-DVD horror flick that is built upon clichés and some not so subtle political subtext.
It’s bad. Really really bad. I don’t know what else to say – It doesn’t even deserve my efforts in trying to sugar-coat it with a fancier description. I love Alexander Skarsgård as much as the next gal, but not even he can glamour me into thinking this movie was bearable.
Worst movie of the year.
Review By: Emma