December 19, 2011

Filthy Review - Straw Dogs

Straw Dogs (2011)

Review by Jude Felton

If you read this expecting a comparison piece with Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 movie you will be sorely disappointed. That is an excellent movie and that is that. I am not here to review it, compare it with this redux or complain about remakes. No, I just want to share my humble thoughts on director Rod Lurie’s Straw Dogs. All I will say is the fact that this movie exists in no way, shape or form effects the original movie.

David Sumner (James Marsden) and his wife Amy (Kate Bosworth) move to Blackwater, Tennessee, which happens to be Amy’s hometown, so that David can work on his screenplay for a movie he is working on.

It soon becomes apparent that it is a very tightly knit community, and everyone knows Amy. David though is the outsider and is treated as such, not necessarily in a mean way, but some of the folk do like to mess with him. The main protagonist is Charlie (Alexander Skaarsgard) and his band of buddies, who are all incidentally hired on to work on the barn on David and Amy’s property.

After some unwanted attention upsets Amy she turns to her husband for support. This doesn’t go quite as she hopes it would, so begins a tale of possible provocation and ultimately attacks on the quiet life they had both hoped for.

There is also a concurrent plot thread concerning Dominic Purcell’s character Jeremy and his infatuation with a school girl and the subsequent run-ins with her violent father, played by James Woods. All of which will eventually come to ahead in this violent tale.

Some may know the story, and others may not, but from my point of view I found it to be an enjoyable movie that managed to slow-burn the tension up until the finale. Sure, it was a little glossy and it was lacking in any real subtlety in its approach to any of the storylines, but by the time it reached the closing credits I wasn’t cursing at the screen for offending my eyes.

The cast were decent enough, although it was Skaarsgard who put in the most convincing performance. He casts a menacing figure and his mix of Southern charm and underlying violence was played out well in my opinion. James Woods overacts the hell out of his role, which is surprising seeing as he is capable of much more. I would have preferred a more subtle approach in his role. Although, this is a movie of stereotypes, with the city folk heading out to the uncivilized South. In that respect I did see a lot of similarities with the recent redux of I Spit on Your Grave, although that was a far more violent movie.

The violence here is kept very much under the surface, to begin with. It does come though, from the uncomfortable assault to full on bloodshed, and doesn’t let up until the very end.

As I mentioned, it is a glossy film, albeit one that is trying to be gritty and there is really nothing wrong with that. There are faults with the movie, and you will question both David’s and Amy’s actions throughout. As I said though, I enjoyed the movie. It didn’t tax my brain and passed a couple of hours quite nicely. There will be those that despise it for their own reasons, but I didn’t. Take from that what you will.

Straw Dogs is released on Blu-ray and DVD on December 20th through Sony Picutres Home Entertainment

1 comment:

Mac Campbell said...

Yes, but the glossiness may negate the filth and despair that runs throughout the story. That ickiness is what makes the original still entertaining, as grainy as it is.