Home > Reviews > THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT – John Murphy

THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT – John Murphy

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A remake of the classic Wes Craven horror movie from 1972, this new version of The Last House on the Left is directed by Dennis Iliadis and stars Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter and Garret Dillahunt. Like its predecessor, it examines the lengths reasonable people will take when placed in a life-or-death situation, and explores the human psyche, and its capacity for violence under extreme duress. The basic plot revolves around the suburban Collingwood family – Mom, Dad, daughter Mari – and the disintegration of the family unit that occurs when Mari is kidnapped, attacked and left for dead by a group of violent strangers who take refuge at the Collingwoods’ isolated summer home.

The score for The Last House on the Left is by English composer John Murphy, who has been making in-roads into the Hollywood mainstream of late, off the back of successful works such as 28 Days Later and Sunshine. Murphy’s music for The Last House on the Left, somewhat surprisingly, is generally orchestral in nature, albeit with a spooky, subdued, and occasionally quite oppressive atmosphere. The “Open Titles” pit moody instrumental textures against a breathy, ominous synth effect giving the piece a sense of chilly isolation; later, cues such as “Candles” revisit the style, which is occasionally reminiscent of the kind of music Christopher Young would write for a film like this.

There’s no recurring main theme to speak of, and much of the underscore proper is given over to suspense and horror cues, which comprise mainly of low, rumbling orchestral lines, gritty synthetic textures, and icy orchestral cues which are clearly designed to create an intense mood of impending danger. Cues such as “In the Woods”, “Saving Mari” and “Looking for Krug” are intentionally harsh and discordant, while the music for the attackers themselves often enters grunge/rock territory, with electric guitars and a drum kit depicting them as dangerous outsiders.

Cues such as “The Boathouse”, “Getting Stoned” and “John vs. Krug” have a surly, sneering attitude which is appropriately convincing. Brief moments of orchestral warmth, such as the soothing string chords in “The Pool” the inviting themes in “The House” and at the beginning of “The Boathouse”, or the mourning “After the Attack”, do exist, and seem like oases of calm in the midst of all the anger and anguish. Overall, The Last House on the Left is a score which is wholly successful in terms creating a mood of tension and dread, in addition to having a surprising amount of generally very good and occasionally very attractive orchestral suspense writing, and for this Murphy should rightly be commended, but it’s still not something I’d want to listen to on a regular basis.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Opening Titles (1:38)
  • The Crossing (2:34)
  • The Pool (0:54)
  • The House (1:29)
  • The Boathouse (2:02)
  • Getting Stoned (1:05)
  • In the Woods (3:40)
  • Are You Ready To Be A Man? (2:28)
  • Killing Paige (1:00)
  • After the Assault (3:19)
  • Dead in the Water (2:13)
  • Candles (3:55)
  • Saving Mari (3:58)
  • Going to the Guest House (2:50)
  • Looking For Krug (3:27)
  • John vs. Krug (2:30)
  • The End (4:07)
  • Opening Titles [Alternate Version] (1:34)

Running Time: 44 minutes 43 seconds

La-La Land Records LLLCD 1092 (2009)

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