Straw Dogs Review

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A struggling couple, scriptwriter David Sumner (Marsden) and his wife Amy (Bosworth), decide to move to the Deep South in a bid to find some respite from the big city and harmony in their marriage. The locals, though, have other ideas.


Rod Lurie's remake of Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 picture sticks closely to the old script, but for a few PC tweaks (Kate Bosworth is less drippy than Susan George). Relocating to gun-totin’, post-Katrina Louisiana means dropping weird Cornish pasty horror for far more conventional redneck nastiness, while a straight-ahead suspense approach trims out the ambiguity that makes the old film still exciting, disturbing and controversial. James Marsden puts on specs as the outsider-wimp-under-siege (now a gawky screenwriter) and Alexander Skarsgård has a bad haircut as the resentful-redneck-who-goes-psycho (now a washed-up football hero), but they’re both too airbrushed handsome to be credible, and James Woods steals the film as the drunken reprobate who incites the climactic orgy of violence. Objectively, about as good as the remake of I Spit On Your Grave… but needless.

Lurie's remake doesn't bring a lot of fresh ideas to the table. The thick fug of moral ambiguity, so disconcerting in Peckinpah's film, is missing, replaced by certainties rife in modern horror. The result is a bit of yawn enlivened only by James Woods' d