The Cinefessions crew loves sharing their opinions on films, but not every movie can get the attention it deserves with a full review. Enter the Cinefessions’ Capsule Reviews. These capsule reviews cover five of the most important aspects of a film, which allow the crew to deliver their opinions on any movie clearly, decisively, and with brevity. These are not our full thoughts on any film, just a highlighting of the major pros and/or cons.

The Last House on the Left 1972Title: The Last House on the Left (1972)
Director: Wes Craven
Runtime: 84 minutes

The fourth of my ’70s horror film reviews for October this year. I grew up on a healthy dose of ’60s, ’70s and ’80s horror and sci-fi, but like everyone, there are older films I’ve missed. This is another of the films I picked that I hadn’t actually seen before.

Story & Script
The official synopsis I found for The Last House on the Left reads as follows: Mari and Phyllis go to the “big city” to see their favorite band, BloodLust. Along the way they meet up with newly escaped convict Krug and his gang. This boils down to a rape and revenge flick, only the girls who get taken by the escaped convicts aren’t the ones to get the revenge. This feels a lot longer than the actual eighty-four minute runtime, and drags quite a bit. A lot of that has to do with the complete gear change reversal to go with some comedy bits over the main thrust of the film, and it feels completely and totally out of place. What could have been a great idea feels a bit squandered.

The acting in the film is all over the place. Sometimes it fits the scene perfectly, other times it’s off and stilted. When they go for comedy, it feels over the top, forced, and so far outside the tone of the rest of the film that it could almost be cut entirely as its that much of a distraction. The gang itself has the strongest acting out of everyone in the film, but, like Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it is definitely not the strength of the film.

This was Wes Craven’s first film, and it really shows. The tone is all over the place. It can’t decide if it wants to be a comedy or a horror flick. Some shots are well thought out, but a lot of it is far too seat of the pants, and just kind of leaves the audience hanging. The ending sequence to the film seems to fly by at a breakneck pace, and ends up leaving me fairly unsatisfied with how much time was spent on the rest of it.

There are a lot of flat scenes in this that drag it down. The comedy portion feels like it should be in something like Cannonball Run or Smokey and the Bandit, but the problem is that it doesn’t work because it’s just not funny. It has that ’70s corny feeling to it that I’d expect from Dukes of Hazard, but again, it doesn’t work with the tone of the rest of the film. This was just so all over the place that I couldn’t get into it at all. Hell, at one point I wasn’t sure I was watching the same film.

The Last House on the Left is a hot mess. I wouldn’t even put this on for background noise. I put the remake in my DVD queue before I ever got this in the mail, and I was rethinking that after I watched this. The idea is great, especially now being a parent myself, but it needed more focus and fewer head trips.

The Verdict
Wes Craven’s first outing shows promise, but is uneven and a bit of a mess with no real identity as it can’t figure out what it wants to be. Some of the scenes work really well, but the ending feels really rushed and unsatisfying given how long we spend with the rest of the events. The acting is alright overall, but there are definite high and low points. I don’t know that I’d even recommend this one for a look out of curiosity’s sake, though. It was a rough watch.