Straw Dogs

Note: Mainstream, Arty and Adventurous Chick aren’t exactly fans of the horror genre. So we recruited a chick who actually digs the stuff to check out “Straw Dogs” on Chickflix’ behalf.  So without further ado, here’s Guest Horror Chick…

I have to start by saying, I haven’t seen the original Straw Dogs (1971). Call me an uneducated, uncultured lameass, but I haven’t seen it. So  I went into this movie-viewing experience with no reference point at all except for the recent, overabundant release of other ’70s sexploitation/thriller remakes like Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave. That said – having gone in with virtually no expectations – I was pleasantly surprised.

Straw Dogs is a story about a somewhat successful Hollywood couple, David (James Marsden) and Amy (Kate Bosworth) Sumner, who move back to Amy’s hometown in Mississippi after her father’s death. In this town, hunting licenses are as common as driver’s licenses, the front page of the newspaper showcases ducks crossing the street, and people don’t take kindly to people who don’t take kindly to church, football, or fried pickles. Almost immediately, David experiences a culture clash in the form of menacing locals.

Among these are Amy’s old flame from high school, Charlie (True Blood‘s abdominally endowed Alexander Skarsgård) and a drunk and overacting James Woods. These encounters lead to a bloody and explosive battle comparable to Stalingrad….well maybe not, but it is mentioned a couple of times as that is the focus of David’s latest screenplay.

Pointless subplots aside, the main problem with this movie is character development. You are so distracted by David’s overly polite, preppy persona that you never really experience the protagonist’s motivation, so when the action begins accelerating you are not quite sure if you really care if this guy dies or not. To credit James Marsden, he plays his character flawlessly, despite a few confusing facial expressions (if you see it, you’ll understand).

Oddly enough, what I found most intriguing about this movie is the way in which the extreme violence was executed (no pun intended). Most of these ’70s sexploitation/thriller remakes have frankly been disturbing…disturbing to the point where you want to shield your eyes from the shame of watching or vomit on the patron to your left. Though the violent scenes in this film were certainly disturbing, they were tastefully done in comparison. The filmmakers were able to make the point without inducing nausea or shame.

Overall, it wasn’t bad for what it was. It also taught me a valuable lesson: when your roof is being renovated by drunken hillbillies, remember to put on a bra. (again, if you see it, you’ll understand!)

About Guest Horror Chick: Meghan Kotlanger is a PR Professional by day and film student by night. She is a self-proclaimed nerd, and she spends her free time playing Xbox or watching terrible movies on the SyFy Channel.

1 Comments

  1. Arty Chick, September 16, 2011:

    First of all, the original was not a horror movie or sexploitation/thriller. It was a psychological thriller, set in a small English town. Dustin Hoffman played David, a mathematician and Sam Peckinpah directed. I saw the original in 1971. It was violent of course being Peckinpah, but beneath it there was a message about being an American academic who was against the war in Viet Nam and claimed to be a pacifist, but was suppressing his own capacity to be as violent as those he hated. It was an adaptation of a book called The Siege of Trencher’s Farm by Gordon Williams. You should see it, though I wonder if it holds up, as many films from 40 years ago do not. At the time it was VERY effective.

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