Straw Dogs DI
2011 Running time: 110 Certificate: 18 Rating: 3
KA Straw Dogs

Synopsis

Director Sam Peckinpah's controversial 1971 thriller is transposed from rural Cornwall to a present-day Mississippi backwater in this solid remake. James Marsden and Kate Bosworth replace Dustin Hoffman and Susan George as newly-weds David and Amy Sumner who head back to her childhood home after her father dies. The two cultures violently collide as Amy's former schoolfriends - unreconstructed rednecks - resent David's success with their old lead cheerleader while he questions his wife's flirtatious behaviour as a homecoming smalltown celebrity. Sticking closely to the original, this is an efficient home invasion thriller.

Director

  • Rod Lurie

Cast

  • James Marsden

  • Kate Bosworth

  • Alexander Skarsgård

  • James Woods

  • Dominic Purcell

Review

Hollywood screenwriter David Sumner (Marsden) and his actress wife Amy (Bosworth) find anything but southern hospitality when they return to her good ol' boy home deep in the wilds of Mississippi.

He drives an E-type Jaguar with California plates, writes screenplays for a living and listens to Beethoven's 1812 Overture for inspiration. The locals chug around in beat-up pick-up trucks, land the odd construction job and lend an ear to Lynyrd Skynyrd lite.

But what he has that they want the most is Amy. A former cheerleader at the local college, she left the town - and resentful ex-boyfriend Charlie (Skarsgard) - to become a success as an actress on a TV soap. She's as close as they can get to royalty.

In a move to win their approval, beta-male David hires Charlie and his hillbilly crew of hunting buddies to repair the roof of Amy's late father's old house.

However, he's irked by their short hours, lack of respect for his privacy and - most of all - Charlie's dumb insolence.

Unable to make any headway with a group of grinning oafs as a last gasp he accepts an offer to go hunting with them only to discover it's a pretext to get him out of the house...while Charlie and his gurning buddy pay an extremely (un)social call to Amy.

Director Rod Lurie (The Contender) has done little to the original 1971 narrative except transfer it to America and bring it up to date.

However, it's the former where Sam Peckinpah scored so strongly: in the land of Uncle Sam, volatile rednecks are ten-a-cent...but in the West Country they're a little rarer.

The original - with its graphic rape scene and heartstopping violence - led to the American director facing accusations of gung-ho prurience and the debasement of women. It didn't help that the film came out the same year as A Clockwork Orange, The French Connection and Dirty Harry.

Forty years on this remake sticks pretty closely to the orginal plot - the lynched cat and bear-trap are still present and correct - yet, thanks largely to the flood of torture porn - it does not have the same power to shock.

Thankfully. it's still an effective thriller...but it's offering nothing new.