Straw Dogs Reviews
Time will tell and how and if they are going to try and a temp to recreate the famous rape sense?
Now, much has been said about the extreme visual violence displayed on screen in 1971 (they just didn't DO THAT back then), and it has been theorized that Peckinpah was making a statement (to the effect that the film was a contemplation on violence and that every human has a breaking point where he is forced to revert to more primal instincts in order to protect what is his). I didn't buy all that sophist stuff then, and I'm not buying it now. Yes, this is a violent film, and yes, the stereotypes are all on display - macho "real man" versus a more "sophisticated" man of words... and yet, while superficially entertaining, the entire enterprise has a "been there, seen that" feel to it (more than what should be justified by seeing the source film, or reading the quite excellent book that was the fountainhead for both.
Cliché piles atop cliché, and director Rod Lurie seems unable to stop this runaway train - it's almost as if his choice of staging the film in Mississippi is too perfect - you don't even raise an eyebrow when the drunken good old boys get all riled up and decide to lay siege to the "city boy" and his domicile. You can almost hear banjos in the background (at least Lurie showed some restraint in that regard).
And yet, the cinematography and acting on display are so much better than you'd expect from a potboiler "thriller" of the "don't go into the backwoods" kind of film. James Wood in particular as the drunken former high school football coach, is in fine form. He's mean, he's scary, he sneers at everything and tells off color racist jokes - everyone laughs with him, probably fearing that he'll break a bar stool over your head if you don't.
The rest of the hoodlums are forgettable, though Alexander Skarsgard shows a bit of depth as the former quarterback who manages to maintain some creds as a big fish in a very small pond. He is the stuff that the title refers to: a Chinese tradition where they anoint these straw dogs in some ceremony and then, after said ceremony, they throw them away. Skarsgard knows he is trapped in nowhereville - to leave would be to become a minnow in that great big ocean out there - better to be a bottom feeding catfish trolling the murky waters at your own pace and reveling in what used to be. To me, this psychological aspect carries more weight than the Lord of The Flies, man resorts to his base nature babble. Sure, said babble is part and parcel of the violence - but I don't feel that, in this instance, the film warrants that kind of analysis... just let it be a bit of mild entertainment that has a very violent streak. I mean, the purported "depth" is there (and heavyhanded) if you want to examine it; the LA screen writer (ably played by James Marsden), is writing a WWII screenplay about the battle for Stalingrad (reveling in the violence of a prior age as an inkling to his buttoned down psyche... ho hum). His home is threatened, his marriage is threatened - he is bullied and made fun of by the locals... he turns the other cheek, as a civilized man should... until it's kill or be killed time (all couched within a "stand for your morals" bit of overstatement). A great film would have you wondering "what would I do in the given situation?" While the unfairness and bullying of the situation did raise my blood pressure about two points, I never felt completely absorbed nor intellectually prodded by any of the human questions that Lurie was trying (I think) to mine.
Good thriller! I did enjoy the film because it was not boring and the story was kinda intriguing. I didn't see the original but maybe some day i'll watch it and compare it to this one. This movie I think it's one of the movies you see only once and never see again.
This movie is a remake of the 1971 movie of the same name (released 40 years prior) now set in modern day Mississippi. The film opens with shots of Mississippi swampland. Classical music underscores the shots and foreshadows the conflicting styles of the movie's two leading men.
In the same swampland, Charlie (Alexander Skarsgård) shoots and brings down an impressive looking buck deer. He and three friends approach the buck, and one of them pulls out a saw to take off the still living buck's antlers. Charlie tells his friend to knock it off, so he can kill the buck properly; the animal watches as Charlie raises his gun, and a shot cues the cut to the next scene.
A vintage Jaguar convertible approaches the small town of Blackwater, Mississippi. The driver, David Sumner (James Marsden), sings along to the fast tempo song while his wife Amy (Kate Bosworth) applies lipstick in her vanity mirror. She laughs at her husband antics and pokes fun at Blackwater, her hometown. David tells her to have more respect for the cradle of her youth as they enter the town. Amy waves to men sitting in a pickup truck outside a bar and stares at the passing scenes: the old white steepled church, uniformed football players jogging past the Jaguar, two dogs running around a messy yard while their owner yells at them. Eventually they pull up to Blackie's, a local bar and, according to Amy, the center of the universe in the small town of Blackwater.
Charlie and his three hunting friends are already in Blackwater, shooting pool and drinking beer. Their former football coach and Blackie's regular Tom "Coach" Heddon (James Woods) drinks at the bar and talks drunkenly with a waitress. Amy and David sit in a nearby booth eating some messy burgers. David is facing Coach, and the older man makes disparaging marks about the former's fancy looks. In any case, it's obvious from David's comments about the locale and the locals that he doesn't come from a town like Blackwater. Amy encourages him to eat a fried pickle, which he calls "disgusting", until Charlie interrupts them. He calls Amy "Amycakes" and tells her that she looks good. He introduces himself to David and tells the couple that he's put in a bid to put a new roof on their barn, which was destroyed during a tornado. It turns out that Amy's father died recently, and she and David are in town to fix up the house. David is a writer and is working on a screenplay about the battle of Stalingrad during World War II. Amy is an actress on a network crime show, which Charlie and most of Blackwater watches. The waitress finally breaks free from Coach and comes over to the booth to compliment Amy on her performance. David tries to pay the bill with his credit card - it's about $15, and Charlie comments how you can't get such good, cheap food in Los Angeles. But the wench of a waitress tells David that Blackie's is a cash only establishment. The waitress snippily tells him cash is what "poor people use", and David tries to smooth the situation over by tipping her well.
Jeremy Niles (Dominic Purcell), a mentally handicapped man in his late thirties, tries to enter Blackie's with his dog. His appearance causes a commotion, and many people tell him to get out. Amy expresses surprise that Jeremy isn't in an institution somewhere - apparently he did something violent in the past - but Charlie tells her that in Blackwater, everybody takes care of their own. David goes to order a beer, leaving Charlie and Amy alone. Charlie slides into the booth and immediately becomes very familiar with Amy, going so far as to try to brush her hair out of her eyes. (She tells him to stop.) At the bar, David sees a picture of a younger Amy and Charlie (who is in a letterman jacket) hugging in the back of a truck. The drunken Coach takes issue with David's lace-less shoes, and the bartender tells him that he's had enough. Coach flips out when the bartender tries to take away his beer mug; the pair gets into a fight over the mug until Coach shatters it and gets glass in the bartender's hand. Charlie tries to calm Coach down, and the drunken man seems momentarily placated, but soon he bursts behind the bar. He says he wants to pay for David's beer and get his own. Sheriff John Burke (Laz Alonso) enters Blackie's and tells Coach to calm down. Eventually he gets him out from behind the bar. Before they leave, David tells Charlie he's won the contract for the roof and asks him to come out the next day to begin work.
Outside, David cannot believe the scene he just witnessed. He tells Amy he almost got stabbed, but she tells him those kinds of flare-ups happen in Blackie's. David sees Jeremy sitting in the Jaguar with his dog, and Amy tries to sweet talk him out. Eventually Jeremy's brother Daniel (Walton Goggins) comes and collects Jeremy, apologizing to the Sumners.
On the drive to Amy's father's property, David eventually asks Amy about Charlie. She admits they used to go together - she doesn't elaborate too much on their relationship - but implies the sexual part was good. When David pouts Amy, who is driving, stops the car and asks him "who ended up with the girl?" They begin to kiss, and Amy climbs on top of him and tries to give him a handjob. David laughingly climbs out of the car, and it turns out they're just down the driveway from a rundown barn and an impressive two-story stone house. He and Amy head towards their new home.
David and Amy walk around the barn, which definitely needs repairs. David tells Amy he'll pay Charlie and his crew what the most expensive crew bid instead of what Charlie asked for. He tells his wife she wants to help her friends, and she tells him that he should spend that extra money on her. They kiss again, and he asks for a tour of the house. During the tour of the house, David finds some records and begins to play them. He and Amy wander into a large room with large buck head mounted over the fireplace. David tells Amy he'll love working in there, and he flops down on the couch. When he waves to the buck head Amy remembers the day her father shot the animal and threw a huge party to celebrate his kill. David points to a bear trap and asks if he used that, but Amy tells him that would be overkill. When David asks if she ever went hunting with her dad she tells him, "You know a lot about a lot of things, but you don't know shit about Southern daddies and their Southern daughters."
Later, David has set up all of his research for his screenplay (a big chalkboard with dates, pictures of the battleground, historical books) in the den. Amy comes in to see how he's doing. She cuddles with him at his desk, and a big white cat named Flutie leaps into her lap out of nowhere. The cat startles David, but Amy is familiar with him and dotes upon the feline.
The next morning Charlie and his three redneck friends pull up to the barn and stone house very early in the morning. Their loud chatter, noisy power tools, and blaring music wake David and Amy. David goes outside to ask them to quiet down. When he climbs the ladder to talk to Charlie, the latter introduces him to his friends: Norman (Rhys Coiro), Chris (Billy Lush), and Bic (Drew Powell). David asks Charlie why he came to work so early, and Charlie tells him that's how they do things "around here." He tells David he'll get used to it. David obviously isn't going to raise a fuss and leaves after asking Charlie to be a little quieter in the future.
Later, as David works on his screenplay in the kitchen, Bic enters the house uninvited and helps himself to a beer. David is taken aback by the gesture but doesn't ask Bic to leave. Eventually Bic grabs an apple and sits down at the kitchen table to eat it. Amy enters, and Bic tells her the fridge isn't cool enough. He also offers to check it out sometime. Amy thanks him, and before he returns to work Bic tells her how great it is to have her back in Blackwater. After he leaves Amy grabs a Popsicle and tries to distract David from his work. David asks her if all her friends are like Bic and explains how Bic entered their home without an invitation and helped himself to a beer. Amy is nonplussed and tells him that in Blackwater people are friendly and trusting. Everybody knows everybody, so people rarely lock their doors. David decides to talk to Charlie about Bic's intrusion.
Charlie and his crew end their workday at noon, which confuses David. Charlie tells David that they're ending work early, so they can hunt. David says that's all right as long as they finish the roof on time. Charlie invites David to go hunting with them, but David says maybe another time. David pulls Charlie aside and tells him Bic came into his house uninvited. "Oh, no. Has Bic given you any reason to mistrust him?" Charlie asks. David says no, and Charlie promises to "handle it" if Bic ever does. The crew leaves, and Amy laughs at David for saying he'd hunt with them.
That night at Blackie's, Charlie and his crew get drunk and play pool.
That same night, Amy and David play chess in bed. Amy reads a book about chess strategy. After she makes a bad move, David tells her that she doesn't have to learn chess to please him. "I want to learn so I can kick your ass," Amy replies. David orders her to lie down on the bed, and after some initial protest, she obeys. He stimulates her with chess pieces and makes her guess which pieces he's using.
Coach hangs out with Charlie at Blackie's and tells a drunken story about a battle. When Daniel Niles shows up Coach gets into a fight with him about Jeremy. He tells Daniel to keep Jeremy away from his daughter, and Daniel assures Coach that if Jeremy ever hurts someone again he'll institutionalize his brother personally. Eventually an off-duty Burke breaks up the argument, but not without raising Coach's hackles.
The next morning, Charlie and his crew drive up behind Amy as she jogs towards home. She's listening to music and doesn't realize they're behind her, so they leer at her scantily clad body. Back at the farm, David tries to work on his screenplay. Charlie makes Norman honk at Amy, and they holler at her as they drive around her. David sees the crew pulls up; they're talking about how hot Amy looked. Moments later Amy jogs up to the house. Sweat soaks the front of her think tank top, and her nipples and breasts are very apparent. She stares at Charlie, and he stares back, and she goes inside.
David reads the paper in the kitchen and comments about how, despite the war in Afghanistan and the financial crisis, the front page of Blackwater's newspaper is dominated by football news. Amy informs him that the town loves football and that football players are their heroes. She adds that when John Burke came home from Iraq, the townspeople did make a big fuss. When David learns that Charlie, Norman, Chris, and Vic are all former football players he calls them "straw dogs." Centuries ago, the Chinese built straw dogs as offerings to the gods; while a straw dog was still in use it was showed with praise and riches, but when it had served its purpose, it was abandoned and stomped upon and torn apart. He thinks that Charlie and other former football players have become the abandoned straw dogs. Amy tells them that the "dogs" outside were "practically licking her" during her run. David suggests, to Amy's chagrin, that she dress more appropriately in the future. She might get more respect if she wore a bra, for example. Amy angrily declares she's going to take a bath.
Amy opens the bathroom window, which is directly across from the barn roof. Charlie and his crew get distracted from their work when Amy begins to unbutton her tank top. She exposes the skin between her breasts and stares at the men, Charlie in particular. Amy closes the shutters before undressing further, and Charlie stares into space for several moments. Then he tells Norman to crank the music up even louder, to do battle with David's Beethoven, which he's playing in the den.
Later David emerges from the house and finds Charlie's crew inspecting the engine and whatnot under the hood of the Jaguar. They compliment him on his car and tell him that they're ending the workday because of the heat. David's going into town to make a cell phone call because reception's bad out by the house. Charlie tells him reception is best right in front of Blackie's, and the crew roars out of the farm's driveway in Norm's pickup truck.
Not too long after that David is driving towards town. He's accelerating the Jaguar while looking at his phone and almost runs into the back of Norm's pickup truck. The truck crawls along at 10 m.p.h., and David grows annoyed with the slow pace. Chris and Bic sit in the bed of the truck, and after a few moments, they give David the okay to pass the truck. David speeds around the pickup truck and pauses to wave to Charlie and Norman; when he returns his gaze to the road he sees that he's barreling towards a crane-suspended log. Some timber crews are working on the side of the road, which is why the pickup truck was driving so slowly. David swerves to avoid the log and blows out a tire in the process. The timber crew yells at him, and Norman pulls over so Charlie can ask if David's okay.
David finally makes it into town. He stands in front of Blackie's and tells his agent, Aaron, that Blackwater isn't as conducive to his creative process as he originally thought. He tells Aaron he needs a few more weeks to work on the script. Jeremy sits on the sidewalk not too far away and stared into space. A group of giggling teenage girls watches him from nearby. One of the girls, Janice, detaches from the group and tries to talk with Jeremy. He mostly ignores her, although she asks him several questions, and eventually Daniel appears and chases her off. He tells his brother, "You've got to stay away from girls."
When David enters Blackie's he sees the girl from outside laughing and hugging Coach. The current football coach, Coach Milkens (Anson Mount), enters Blackie's and introduces himself to David. Coach tells Milkens that Jeremy Niles tried to hang around the cheerleaders earlier; he wants Milkens to keep Jeremy away from them, especially the girl from outside, who turns out to be his daughter Janice (Willa Holland). Milkens tries to diffuse the situation and invites David to come to the "Pray and Preach" that upcoming Sunday. Every year before the start of the football season the local preacher gives a special sermon aimed at riling up the players and townsfolk alike. After the sermon, everyone in Blackwater migrates to the football field where the players (the Bengals) scrimmage and the townsfolk have a picnic. It's a longtime Blackwater tradition, and David accepts the invitation, saying, "When in Rome!" He downs a beer in one gulp, and the bar patrons, which include Charlie and his crew, hoot their approval.
That Sunday everyone in Blackwater - the Sumners, the Niles, Charlie, Norman and his pregnant wife, Chris, Bic, Coach and Janice, Burke - attends church. The reverend prays for the football players, and David tells Amy he's stepping outside to get some fresh air. Charlie and Coach seem to take offense to David leaving in the middle of the sermon.
David dozes in the Jaguar until Charlie comes outside and looms over him. Charlie asks David why he left in the middle of the sermon and David replies, "Religion isn't really my thing." Charlie is confused by David's avowal and becomes angry when David tells him that he thinks God sounds like a bully. Charlie tells David he can look down on Blackwater, its residents, and their customs, but it's quite another thing to look down on God. He claims that the reverend spent all week preparing the sermon, and David admits he could have been more sensitive. Charlie walks away, and David stops him by saying, "Charlie, there is something in the Bible I do believe. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's wife." Charlie asks what happens when "thy neighbor's wife covets you?" The implication is that Amy wants him back. Church lets out, and everyone sets off towards the picnic. Charlie catches a ride with Norman and their crew.
A band plays country rock at the picnic. David stands in line to get food while Amy talks with Norm's wife and Janice. Norm's wife and Janice compliment Amy on her television show. Amy accepts their praise gracefully. David sees Jeremy ahead of him in line. Norman pulls up to the picnic, Charlie and their crew in tow, and it's obvious they're late. (Important later.) David gets into the music, singing along to a song with the rest of the locals, and eventually returns to Amy's side. Charlie, Norman, Bic, and Chris come over, and everything goes well until Jeremy sits down with them. Coach comes over and starts pushing Jeremy around, telling him to get away from Janice. Amy, who didn't mind Jeremy sitting with them, grabs Coach's hand and tells him to leave Jeremy alone. Coach yells at her, and David pulls Amy away from the scene, essentially telling her to mind her own business. Daniel comes over to take Jeremy away, but even he can't stop Coach from attacking when Jeremy says Janice is his girlfriend. Coach tackles Jeremy and beats him, knocking over a drink dispenser and generally humiliating his daughter in the process.
Amy storms away from the picnic. She's furious with David for not supporting her and for letting Coach bully Jeremy. He maintains that she shouldn't have involved herself in the fight.
That night Amy watches an old movie in bed and grows annoyed with David when he tries to do his jump rope exercises. David returns his jump rope to their closet, sees something inside of it, and backs away in disbelief. He closes the doors and tries to prevent Amy from seeing what's inside. She gets past him, pulls open the closet doors, and finds Flutie, who hangs from a bar by a rope wrapped around his neck. Amy believes that Charlie or someone from his crew hung her cat, which would explain their late arrival to the picnic. David doesn't want to confront anyone without solid proof, but Amy points out the unlikelihood of a stranger walking into their house and hanging their pet. David tells her that they're locking their doors in the future. Amy pulls up a floorboard and reveals a secret compartment where her father kept a loaded gun; she puts the gun in her purse while a shocked David watches her.
The next morning David and Amy watch Charlie and his crew work on the roof. Amy wants David to do something about Flutie's murder, but David protests he can't march outside and accuse the men of killing their cat. He tells her he will go outside and ask them if they've seen Flutie; he believes he will be able to tell a lot by their reaction. David heads outside and Amy watches him from the window. David engages Charlie and his crew in a friendly conversation and doesn't mention Flutie at all.
Later that day David, Charlie, and the rest of the crew come into the den to set up Amy's father's bear trap. Charlie and Norman pull the trap open, using their weight to keep its mighty jaws apart, and Charlie snatches his hand back just in time when the bear trap springs closed. David obviously hasn't asked the men about Flutie, so Amy takes matters into her own hands. She brings the men a tray of beers and sets out a saucer of milk for Flutie. She asks the men if they've seen her cat, and they tell her no. David and Charlie mount the bear trap over the fireplace, and Charlie asks David to go hunting with his crew the next day. He reminds David about his "when in Rome" comment and adds that hunting season will end soon. David eventually agrees to go with them.
The next morning David rides in the back of the truck with Chris and Bic. Amy goes on her morning jog. Chris gives David a bright orange vest to wear so no one will shoot him. He and Bic press for the story of how David met Amy, and David tells them that he writes for Amy's crime show. Deep in the misty woods, Charlie teaches Charlie how to load a gun. (It's interesting to note that aside from David, none of them men wear bright colors.) Amy continues to jog.
As they walk through the woods, the men ask David about his screenplay. David expounds about the importance of the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II and how the Russians defeated the Germans. Charlie is familar with the history of the battle and says that God helped the Russians win the battle for the Soviet Union. David points out that the former Soviet Union was, and the current Russian country still is, a nation of atheists. Charlie replies that "God works in mysterious ways", and they head deeper into the forest. David eventually tells the crew about Flutie's murder, and they react with shock before splitting up.
Amy strolls past the lake near the barn and house.
David is now alone in the woods. Suddenly he hears a gunshot, and a bullet flies past him, narrowly missing him. David falls to the ground and calls out to the men who fired to shot, telling them not to shoot. Seconds later a giant buck bounds into the misty clearing and leaps over David. Chris and Bic follow close behind. They apologize to David for nearly hitting him but assure him that they were shooting at the buck. They ask David what direction the buck took off in, but David doesn't know.
Back at the house, Amy takes a shower. David stalks through the woods, back on the hunt. Amy steps out of the shower, puts on a robe, and hears someone knock at the front door. It's Charlie, and he's come to offer his condolences for Flutie. Amy tells him to leave, tries to slam the door, but Charlie stops the door with his foot. He forces his way in the house, and he comments that they made a lot of memories on the couch in the entry room. He keeps walking towards Amy, and she walks backward, until he presses her up against the wall. Amy tries to push him away, but he forces her to kiss him. This scene intersperses with scenes of David finding the buck in a clearing of fallen trees. Charlie pushes Amy onto the aforementioned couch and begins to untie her robe; she cries and tells him to stop.
Back in the clearing, David raises his gun and considers whether or not to kill it.
Back at the house Charlie unbuckles his belt and Amy screams. Charlie tries to soothe her and asks her if this is what she's thought about when she and David have sex.
Back in the clearing David lowers his gun but, after a moment, shoots the buck. It falls to the ground.
Charlie rapes Amy. She stops fighting him, but she remains stiff and refuses to kiss him. Charlie finishes, and as he lays on top of Amy, panting, the recorder player needle moves forward and begins to play an upbeat song. Amy and Charlie are startled, and when Charlie shifts his back, Norman comes into view. Charlie flies off of Amy, but instead of intervening, Norman grabs a sobbing Amy and drags her towards him.
In the clearing, David walks towards the fallen buck. He crouches by it and seems in awe of it.
At the house, Norman has bent Amy over a couch. Charlie has fallen into a chair and watches the second rape in a haze. Shots of Norman running his hands over Amy's body are interspersed with shots of David running his hand along the buck's carcass. Norman finishes raping Amy, and he and Charlie leave.
David realizes Charlie and his crew have abandoned him. He tries to hitchhike home, still holding his rifle. Burke pulls up and tells him that people have been calling the police station complaining about a hitchhiking man with a rifle. Burke hopes David hasn't been hunting, because it's not hunting season; to hunt would actually be considered poaching. David is angry when he realizes that Charlie and his crew set him up as a prank.
When David arrives home, he finds Amy sitting on their bed. She's eerily calm and listens as he rants about her "friends." He tells her he's going to fire Charlie and his crew because the latter has gone too far. "Good for you," Amy says. She tells David that they're both cowards, but she makes no mention of the rapes. David becomes angry with Amy and tells her that she "pushes" him. He leaves the bedroom.
The next morning, David brings Charlie into the house and tells him that he's fired. Instead of citing the day before, when Charlie asks for a reason David tells him that he's been taking too long on the roof. Charlie says he's already ordered parts, and David agrees to pay for them. He asks Charlie what he owes him, and Charlie claims $5,000. He jokes that he'll only accept cash when David grabs his checkbook, and David writes him a check anyway. Amy comes into the kitchen and watches her husband hand Charlie the check. Charlie goes outside and tells his crew they've been fired. They laugh and tell Charlie he has a "silver tongue" when he shows them the check for five grand. David and Amy watch them drive away.
Some time later, David types on his laptop outside. Amy comes out and tells him that if they want to fit into Blackwater they need to go to the first football game that night. She tells him that she's driving.
Amy and David arrive at the game. Locals have lit a pile of crate on fire, and Charlie stands near the blaze with his crew. They see the Sumners arrive and watch them walk into the game. Amy and David take their seats in the packed stands, and Coach strides around the field lecturing Milkens about strategy. Jeremy stands on the sidelines, and Janice, in her cheerleader uniform, approaches him. He doesn't respond to her, but she convinces him to take a walk with her. She wants to find someplace private for them to talk.
Charlie and his crew enter the game and sit near Amy and David. The two groups eye one another, especially Amy and Charlie. The football game has begun, and Amy has flashbacks of the rapes each time the football players collide.
Janice has lead Jeremy to the back of the locker rooms inside the high school gym. His back is against the wall, and she stands in front of him. Janice tells him that he's a handsome, strong looking man. She asks if he likes being alone with her. He tells her no, and he stares into space. Janice kisses Jeremy, and then she asks if he liked the kiss. He doesn't respond.
Out on the field Coach can't find Janice. When another cheerleader tells him that she went off with Jeremy, he flips out and runs out of the stadium to find them.
Amy continues to flashback to the rape. Charlie watches her.
Janice tells Jeremy she wants to do something with him. She sinks to her knees but snaps back up when she hears her father's angry voice. Coach charges into the gym, and yells for his daughter and Jeremy. Jeremy realizes he might get in trouble, so he grabs Janice and puts his hand over her mouth. Shots of the game and Amy's flashback intersperse with shots of Jeremy accidentally smothering Janice. Coach stops short of going into the area of the locker room where Jeremy and Janice hide, but when the camera pans down to Jeremy's feet, Janice's feet have stopped struggling. She's obviously dead.
Amy is upset, and she and David decide to leave the game. Not long afterwards Coach barrels across the field and tell Charlie and his crew that Janice is missing. He tells them Jeremy probably took her, and they leap into action.
David and Amy drive home. Amy wants to leave town, and David takes his eyes off the road to address her. Amy screams and points at the road, but this time it's too late. David hits someone, and the person flies onto the windshield and rolls off the roof of the car. It's Jeremy. David leaps out of the car and rushes to aid him. Jeremy is bloody and David stops him from poking the bone sticking out of his arm. David brings Jeremy to the car and tells Amy they'll take him back to the farm and call an ambulance there.
Coach, Charlie, and Charlie's crew stand in front of Norm's truck. Coach rages about what he'll do if Jeremy has Janice, and a report comes over Norm's radio - it's set on a police dispatcher channel - that an ambulance has been called out to Amy and David's farm for Jeremy. The five men jump into Norm's truck and head off to the farm to get Jeremy.
Amy and David try to tend to Jeremy's after they arrive back at their home. Norm's truck pulls into the driveway, and five enraged men pour out. Charlie knocks on the door and asks David to relinquish Jeremy. Amy learns something has happened to Janice and considers sending Jeremy out, but David stops her. He won't give up Jeremy until the authorities arrive.
Back at the truck Coach tells Charlie and his crew that Amy and David are protecting Jeremy, who he is convinced has done something to Janice. His anger is infectious, and the men decide to storm the house and take Jeremy by force. They grab their guns and gasoline.
David has moved Amy and Jeremy upstairs, and as he fortifies the house downstairs Amy tries to get Jeremy to tell her what's happened to Janice.
Charlie, Coach, Norman, Chris, and Bic throw rocks and bricks through the windows and fire their rifles into the house.
Inside, David tells Amy he will defend his house. Burke arrives and tells Coach, Charlie, and Charlie's crew to stand down. Coach confronts Burke and sarcastically calls him a war hero. He tells the sheriff that David is protecting Jeremy and that Jeremy has done something to Janice. He tells Burke it's time for the officer to choose sides.
David goes to the door and speaks with Burke. Burke tells him to surrender Jeremy, but David refuses. He tells Burke he's "one of them" and adds he'll wait until the state police arrive. Coach, displeased with the direction Burke has taken, goes back to the truck and grabs a rifle. David, peering through the door's peephole, sees Coach appear behind Burke, rifle raised. He tries to warn Burke, but Coach shoots and kills the sheriff.
David pushes a bookcase in front of the door. He starts to boil some water on the stove. Amy still wants Jeremy to tell her what happened to Janice, but Jeremy starts to panic when Charlie and his crew shoot at the house. They can't shoot through the front door, because it's made of steel. David exclaims, "They've gone too far." A rock flies through the window and hits him in the face. With Amy's help, David takes down and sets up the bear trap. Amy has a moment of doubt while holding the jaw of the bear trap open, but David tells her if Charlie, Coach, and the crew get in the house, it's because they're dead. Amy returns upstairs.
Outside, Charlie tires of shooting at the house and opens fire on the Jaguar. The car bursts into flame. The crew hollers their approval.
Chris almost breaches the house through a window in a back room, but David catches him. In a moment of convenient improvisation, David grabs an electric nail gun and nails Chris's hands to the wall. Chris screams and begs David not to kill him, but David puts the nail gun to his head.
Charlie and the crew set the barn on fire and decide to smoke David, Amy, and Jeremy out of the house. Coach approaches the kitchen window and fires his rifle into the house. David crouches down below the stove, which is right by the kitchen window. He grabs the two boiling pans of water and tosses them into Coach's face. Coach screams in agony and runs back to Charlie. David goes into the living room, puts on a record, and sits on the couch.
Outside, Coach rages about his burned face. Charlie and his crew, minus Chris, try to figure out how to breach the house while David cleans his glasses inside. Charlie and his crew decide to ram the house with Norm's truck, but Norman disappears around the back of the house while Charlie climbs behind the driver's wheel. Amy tries to warn David that Charlie is going to ram the house, but David figures it out when the truck makes first contact with the den wall.
Upstairs, Amy fires her father's gun at the car. David stops her and tells her if they make it up to the bedroom she'll need those bullets. Norman pours gas through an open window. Back in the den Charlie rams the truck into the wall a final time. The impact knocks Charlie unconscious, and the den is on fire. Coach tries to revive Charlie and, when he can't, gets out of the car with his rifle. David hides on the other side of the wall, right by the doorway. When Coach's rifle barrel appears around the corner David grabs the gun and pushes it downwards. Coach pulls the trigger, but the gun's downward angle means he shoots his own foot. Coach stumbles backward in pain and David takes his gun. He shoots Coach several times in the chest, and Coach dies. When Bic charges out of the truck David beats him to death with the butt of the rifle. Charlie wakes up and grabs the gun from David. He aims his gun at David, but the rifle is empty.
Meanwhile, Norman has snuck in through a back window. He creeps upstairs and grabs Amy from behind. (Jeremy makes no attempt to intervene.) Charlie and David burst into the bedroom. Norman and Charlie point their guns at one another; Amy scampers off the bed. Charlie tells Norman they shouldn't be pointing their guns at one another, so Norman turns his gun on David. Before he can fire, Amy shoots him with her father's pistol. Norman dies.
Now Charlie and David face off. David gets the gun away from Charlie, and he tries to punch Charlie. Charlie is considerably taller than David, though, so David can only wrestle him into the wall. Charlie throws David into the hallway, and David tries to attack him again. Charlie throws David down the stairs, and David scrambles into the den. Charlie grabs Norm's rifle and follows David into the den. David hurries backwards and slips in Coach's blood. He falls to the ground and lands on his back. He stands and tries to run into the kitchen as Charlie advances with the rifle, but he falls again, and his glasses, at this point very broken, fly off his face. Charlie allows David to grab his glasses because he wants David to watch him kill him. He raises his rifle, much like he did to the buck at the movie's beginning. Before he can shoot, he hears a rifle cock.
It's Amy, and she has a rifle trained on him. Charlie asks if it's the rifle from upstairs, and Amy nods. Charlie smiles before informing her the rifle's empty. He calls her "Amycakes" and tells her not to worry. He lowers his rifle and keeps talking to her. All of a sudden David jumps up behind him and slams the bear trap down on Charlie's head. Amy gasps in horror, and Charlie stumbles around in surprise before collapsing on a desk. He dies, and Amy and David look at each other. David surveys the bodies of
Charlie, Bic, Coach, and Chris. "I got them all," he muses. Amy still looks horrified.
David goes outside and sees the burning barn and fiery cars. He walks over the barn and watches the flames devour it. In the distance, he can hear police sirens.
Director: Rod Lurie
Summary: Screenwriter David Sumner (James Marsden) relocates with his wife, Amy (Kate Bosworth), to her Mississippi hometown, but as detachment strains their marriage, bigger threats loom in their small town. To Amy's chagrin, David attempts to befriend the locals, including Amy's ex-boyfriend, Charlie (Alexander Skarsgård). But resentments re-emerge and tensions rise to an explosive end.
My Thoughts: "The film moves slow, but the build up is worth it. Things slowly unravel into complete craziness. It's very gritty, raw, and violent. Sometimes the violence is hard to watch. But the ending is very rewarding. I found David to be too conservative, weak, and closed minded to the concerns Amy was having. But in the end I was impressed by how he stands up and takes control of the situation. The ending is really the best thing going for this film. The build up could have been better and more fast paced. It just felt like a waiting game. But still worth sitting through just to see the ending."
L.A. screenwriter David Sumner relocates with his wife to her hometown in the deep South. There, while tensions build between them, a brewing conflict with locals becomes a threat to them both.
The plot summary is exactly the same for Peckinpah's original movie as well as this remake: in truth, the mechanics of the story have hardly changed. But much else has. The move from the autumn chill of rural Cornwall to the steamy heat of backwater Mississippi makes a massive difference in the feel of the movie. And, less obviously, 2011 is very different from 1971 - yes, Kate Bosworth's sweaty and bra-less jogging T-shirt is indeed provocative but, in the present day, it is far less provocative than Susan George's coquettish displays of 40 years ago.
The character dynamics are different. Alexander Skarsgard's Charlie has inside him someone who thinks he is good and, perhaps, often tries to be, as opposed to Del Henney's Charlie, who was simply thuggish. Also, Peter Vaughan's bullying local bigwig is a million miles away from James' Wood's Coach who is entertainingly and hysterically psycho, albeit perhaps a little too far in that direction to be wholly believable. And James Marsden plays the passive side of David well, but he always strikes you as someone who is far more likely to be able to look after himself than the diminutive and nerdy Duston Hoffman. What this film does is redecorate the room. It was always a good room, and now it looks different. Not better, not worse, but different.
"Everyone Has a Breaking Point."
Straw Dogs did a few things for me. It rein-stilled the fact that living in the deep South would fucking suck. I'm not just talking about the crazy rednecks, but everything about their Republican culture sucks. More importantly though, the movie got its point across loud and clear. It doesn't matter how peaceful you are, if your or your loved ones lives aren't threatened, you will become an animal. You will turn into a killing machine.
A screenwriter and his small time actress wife move to the deep South where Amy grew up. There is a big clash of culture between David and the hicks. They make fun of him behind his back because he actually has an education and doesn't follow their core beliefs, which are Guns, Beer, Guns, More Beer, and finally Guns. His wife had a thing with one of the men who are fixing up their roof, back in high school and he isn't quite over that yet. The film builds its tension well throughout, but still it could have done things a little better.
Nothing in the movie standouts, but as a whole it is good. The acting is nothing remarkable, but everyone involved plays their characters well enough. Kate Bosworth isn't an amazing actress, but I thought she did a pretty good job as Amy, and her jogging scenes were just great. James Marsden is also not one of my favorites, but he does a terrific job developing his character as a pacifist, which is vital to the ending working at all. The film is essentially an hour and twenty minutes of buildup to a final twenty-five minutes or so of just brutal violence.
Straw Dogs is a remake of a 1971 film that starred Dustin Hoffman, which I need to check out sometime in the near future. Seeing as I haven't seen the original, I can't compare the two and when I finally do see it, I may end up bringing my rating for this down. As of now though, I thought Straw Dogs was a well done, intelligent thriller.
Sam Peckinpah's "Straw Dogs" was released in 1971 and was immediately misjudged, seemingly at the very moment of its arrival. It sent movie-goers either running for the hills - never to look back again - or scratching their chins in an attempt to find some sort of intellectual meaning for what they had just witnessed. The film itself was the story of a mathematician and his wife who moves back to the latter's hometown - a small, quiet little town in England - who face harassment that I'd describe as of both the verbal and physical variety. Peckinpah had created a powerful, philosophically engaging meditation on the subject of violence that is both admired and reviled to this day. Some say it has not aged particularly well; others say it hasn't budged in terms of quality. Nevertheless, it was a film made in a style that simply could not be improved upon in a remake or re-imagining of some sort; the visual stylistics weren't overly flashy (and THEY certainly aren't dated), and the characters might still be believable today as they were when the story was set in the lower end of the 1970's.
Here's my point: there was no need for a remake; the remake that has been made is unnecessary. But if you've got the talent to make an unnecessary film completely entertaining and perhaps even a little provocative; I'd say you're pretty damn good at what you do. The director of the 2011 "Straw Dogs" is Rod Laurie; an obvious admirer of the original film. He might not have admired it enough to give the opportunity to remake it an easy "pass"; but he's given us the "Straw Dogs" remake that we never wanted nor thought we would see. It's just as intense - although not quite as memorable - as the original film. It neither improves nor disrespects the overall image and quality of the story as it once was.
Laurie's re-telling of the story is not set in England. Instead, the action takes place in Mississippi. The central characters remain almost entirely the same however, and the couple emerges in-tact for this version of the tale; although the man of the house is no longer a mathematician, but instead a screenwriter. Their names are David (James Marsden) and Amy (Kate Bosworth). Indeed, just like in the original film, they have just moved to their new location (of Blackwater Mississippi); where Amy grew up during the course of her childhood and teen years. Upon arriving, the two get acquainted with the town pub as well as those who often occupy it; particularly a suave character from Amy's romantic past named Charlie (Alexander Skarsgard) and his redneck buddies.
Charlie and his entire circle of friends have agreed to fix up the roof on the barn that lies on the land that Amy and David have purchased. They're mostly consistent in their work; although when they're not hammering away at boards, they've got their eyes on David's beautiful wife, and other times, on him. This appears distressing; perhaps Charlie wants Amy back; although we know she does not want him. However, Charlie is a determined fellow; discreet in his impeccable hatred for David and the prize that he has coveted; which was once his.
Let's see. I don't think I'd be spoiling too, too much if I told you that the film ends in a particularly violent shoot-out between the drunken local hillbillies and the two main characters. The struggle is over a man that they are sheltering in their home; the village idiot (Dominic Purcell) who has been engaged in a secretive romantic relationship with the town football coach's (James Woods) young daughter. The coach fears that the poor man has done something wrong to his girl, and thus, he will stop at nothing to "bring him to justice", even if it means killing those unassociated with whatever crime he believes this man has committed. No matter, if the coach is going to load his gun and fire it at either Amy or David; they're going to fight back, and what ensues is a bloody show-down of sorts. Like in the original film, it's thrilling and exciting, but meant to bear some deeper, more thought-provoking message about violence and its affects. This remake does not shed such skin; although I found myself rooting for the struggle instead of being repulsed by the inhumanity exploited within it, which takes away from the power of this version of "Straw Dogs".
No matter, as a fan of the original movie, I have a lot of respect for Laurie's envisioning. It didn't absolutely NEED to get made; but it was made, and it was made well. That is all I ask from Hollywood these days when it comes to remakes; and "Straw Dogs" brings just a bit more than usual to the table. Performances from Marsden, Bosworth, and others are first-rate; as is the level of suspense and tension. I enjoyed watching this version of the "Straw Dogs" story because it mixes the things that I liked about the original film with things that were not present at all. Laurie has made his "Straw Dogs" a new movie in itself, rather than making Peckinpah's film all over again. He may lack the man's philosophical brilliance, but he has all the skill necessary to deliver the goods; and that he does. "Straw Dogs", like its great original, may not be for the squeamish; but I recommend it to the strong-stomached and the strong-minded, wholeheartedly.