“They’re practically licking my body outside,” Kate Bosworth says to her husband James Marsden in Rod Lurie‘s controversial remake of Sam Peckinpah‘s “Straw Dogs.” Controversial because “Straw Dogs,” an incredibly haunting and challenging domestic drama and psychological thriller by Peckinpah, is (rightfully) considered a masterpiece. So many have asked, what’s the point in remaking it? The original is an amazing examination at masculinity and male emasculation — in that sense the latter point is almost a cautionary horror tale for men.
Peckinpah’s 1971 version was set in idyllic southwest England. Lurie’s version transports and updates the story to the American south and instead of bullying, British village-idiots terrorizing the couple, in this version we have good ol’ white trash hicks played by played by Alexander Skarsgård and Rhys Corio. Essentially it’s about an L.A. screenwriter who 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. Basically, he’s pushed to his limits and has to defend himself and his family, but is it a revenge film like “Taken” or does it have more social and sociological meat like the original? Are white trash hicks as antagonists too reductive these days? We’re far beyond the days of “Deliverance,” are we not?
Will the remake from Screen Gems be as unflinching and brutalizing as the original? The trailer honestly doesn’t look bad, but the verdict truly won’t be in until we all actually see the picture when it arrives on September 16 (which makes it a prime film for the Toronto International Film Festival). Frankly, neither Marsden and Bosworth have ever really shown major acting chops, but the fact that they even stepped up to the plate for this sure-to-be-difficult film is probably a testament to the the fact they were at least up to the challenge (though this dialed-in insider thinks it doesn’t matter and calls the film, which he has already seen, “a travesty“).
The picture also features Walton Goggins, James Woods, Laz Alonso and Dominic Purcell.