This afternoon I went to see the remake of Last House on the Left, fully expecting to hate it, but found, to my surprise, that I enjoyed it quite a lot. I consider myself to have a pretty high tolerance for violence and I found this film to even push my boundaries a little bit. I attribute this to the talent of the director, though, for making me care so damn much about everything that was going on. The rape scene in particular pretty much pushed me to the breaking point. Violence I can stomach in films, but sexual violence, especially perpetuated against tiny teenage girls (who actually look like teenagers, compared to most slasher films), is pretty hard to take. I don’t think I’m alone in that, but nevertheless, it was pretty brutal. For once, though, I really thought taking the audience to its limit was necessary, in that it would be pretty hard to get behind the parents of the girl, once they decide to take “defending themselves” as a pretty liberal license to “defend themselves” with some hideously brutal techniques. It’s rare that evil is portrayed on the screen so unblinkingly that not only do you cheer on the evildoer’s death, but you sort of viscerally feel that they deserve all the torture they get in the process.
Of course that’s not real life, and it’s a manipulative technique to use in films. Alfred Hitchcock, I believe it was, said that if you want the audience to believe in the villain, the villain has to be likable in some respect; he has to be human. Pure evil isn’t reality. At least I don’t think. But in a film like Last House on the Left, that argument totally misses the point. The evildoers are merely a device, a plot point to prove that director knows a little sum sumthin’ about the “human condition.” I think Last House is supposed to be provocative in the sense that it asks the tireless question of “how far would you go to defend your family?”
Well, pretty fuckin’ far, if you wanna know the truth, and I don’t need a movie to make me ponder that while I lay in bed at night. I left the film sort of numb, and kind of sad, but not because of the movie. I do think films like this serve a place in society, and it can be a very cathartic place in the right circumstances, but that’s another post for another time. I left the theater sad because my parents were here visiting this week, and they left on Thursday, and we had a really good time, and I was really depressed when they went home. I left the theater sad because some of my favorite people in the world have started reproducing, and knowing their children makes my heart swell with pride. And longing. I left the theater sad because at my job I work with kids who have been so damaged by just the type of people in this film that, despite what my spirit says, my head thinks there is no hope for those kids.
And so I thought to myself, “There’s no question.” If someone were to threaten my family, or the people I love, yeah, I would have no problem killing them. Not one. Wouldn’t think twice about it, and I wouldn’t feel bad. Especially if I was in the albeit extremely unlikely position of the parents in this film. I might not engage in the balls-out torture that they do in the film (in other words, a gun, as opposed to a garbage disposal, would do quite nicely thank you). But I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment.
Does that make me a monster? I don’t think so, and it’s not a position I exactly ever hope to be in. But it’s not a question I’m going to sit around and pretend to ponder so I don’t feel so bad about my primal nature. I think most people would do the same, and I imagined my own mother in the position of the mother in this film, and the lengths my own mother has gone to to protect me in real life from dangers far less grave than murderous maniacs.
And it made me sad.
But then I came home to my boyfriend who was cooking me dinner, and my cat who was asleep on her favorite chair in the dining room. Then I poured some wine and started thinking about the fact that spring break is over and it’s back to school tomorrow and all the shit I have to do this week, and tomorrow.
And then I was happy again.