Rod Lurie’s Straw Dogs, a remake of the 1971 film by Sam Peckinpah, is perhaps the most superfluous exercise ever. It’s not that Lurie’s remake is inferior to the original (though it is), it’s that its shock value is long gone and all that’s left is a semi-effective, sometimes incomprehensible, out-of-its-time revenge picture in search of a drive-in theater that closed 30-odd years ago. Peckinpah’s film was a product of its time. Its point was to shock and to alert the viewer to not only the violence that lay dormant in everyone, but that society was turning the same corner that the main character was and was likely to find that it, too, wouldn’t know its way home. So here we are 40 years later with the story intact almost point for point, but now with the disturbing ambiguity of the original dropped, the location changed, and a more vapid cast. What we get instead is a series of good ol’ boy yahoo cliches set in an entire community of seeming fundamentalist Christians. It’s been turned into Straw Dogs Meets Deliverance with the significance of neither. It covers the same territory so completely by rote that, for me, it became difficult to stay awake in between set pieces as the movie slogged its way toward the violent finale. If you don’t know the story — outsider and his wife move to her small home town where they’re harassed, raped, and/or menaced by the locals leading to a showdown — you may get more out of it. Now, if they could have worked the bear-trap business here into I Don’t Know How She Does It, they’d’ve been onto something.
Director: Rod Lurie
Writer: Reed Steiner
Producer: Marc Frydman
Cast: Alexander Skarsgaard, James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Dominic Purcell, James Woods, Willa Holland, Laz Alonso, Walton Goggins, Rhys Coiro and Anson Mount