Movie review – Just plain nasty

2011-11-18 07:36

Film: Straw Dogs (Ster-Kinekor)
Director: Rod Lurie
Featuring: James Marsden, Kate Bosworth and Alexander Skarsgard
Rating: 5/10

Stepping into Dustin Hoffman’s shoes for any actor probably brings on the night sweats – so kudos to James Marsden for having a go.

Straw Dogs, made in 1971, stars Hoffman as a nerdy mathematician who goes to his pretty wife’s hometown only to become the target of the town’s bullies.

Four decades on, this sinister flick has been remade with Marsden as David Sumner, a Hollywood scriptwriter who relocates with his actress wife Amy (Kate Bosworth) to her hick hometown in the US south to live a more quiet, rural life.

This is not to be, of course, because Amy’s ex-boyfriend Charlie (Alexander Skarsgard) and his beer-swilling, gun-toting mates won’t allow it. The envy of seeing one of their own make good sets them off, which is exacerbated by David’s misreading of the situation.

The combination puts in motion a sequence of events that leads to a shattering climax of gore and horror.

But the glaring missing link in the plot is the wife. Amy seems incapable of speaking to her husband candidly, yet the opening sequences of the film sell their marriage to the viewer as a happy, carefree one.

It just doesn’t ring true that she doesn’t tell her husband they need to get the hell out of Dodge before the situation turns bloody.

Skarsgard is best known for his role as Eric in True Blood, and here he gets in touch with an inner creature that makes a bloodsucker look like a furry pet.

It’s horrible. In fact, this film and its subject matter is horrible. It’s is an exploration of the politics of envy and of pure nastiness for its own sake. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

The point of the original film, and by extension this remake, is to pose the question: “What is a person’s breaking point?”

To get to the answer, the writer and director Rod Lurie is forced to explore the badness of men, and it is enough to bring on nausea in the audience.

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