Straw Dogs ★★★

Sam Peckinpah's 1971 original remains, to this day, an intense and deeply disturbing study of a pacifistic man forced to extreme violence through bitter community tension and the rape of his wife. The original rape scene was extremely controversial, giving the film it's powerhouse reputation and painting the characters with qualities that are just as sinister now as they were back then. And so to this remake, which relocates the story from rural England to the redneck deep south, and virtually copies the original scene for scene. The result is a poor copy with vastly inferior acting (especially from Alexander Skarsgård) and a hopelessly dumbed-down rape scene which opts to play safe rather than punish the viewer as the original did. Now I'm not suggesting that the rape scene should have been more graphic, but in a narrative context this strong scene gave the original movie a really hard body blow which the remake lacks and is left feeling limp as a result. The threat of rape hangs heavy in the original and when it arrives, you really feel the shock of it and thus enjoy the revenge more intensely. The remake is more like an episode of True Blood, even down to the seige at the end which plays out like a daft episode from Saw rather than a cinematic illustration of human endurance. Watch the original if you can stomach it, but avoid this cheap xerox copy which strips the story of all its power and raw energy and turns a true masterpiece into a shitty TV movie.