Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Straw Dogs


I always wonder why someone has the urge to remake a movie that was perfectly good the first time around. I’m on record as saying it’s usually a bad idea. But not always. This remake is astonishingly faithful to the original. Scene for scene, it replays the Dustin Hoffman version. I had expected that the action at the end would be ramped up horribly, but that’s not the case. Aside from battering the house with a pick-up truck, which didn’t happen in the first one, everything is just about as it was.

Roger Ebert even said he thought this was the better version. I wouldn’t go that far, but director-writer (well, adapter, since not much was changed) Rod Lurie has nothing to be ashamed of here. The setting is changed to the American South, land of God, country, and football, not necessarily in that order. It works a lot better than I expected. After all, I don’t know shit about Cornishmen, but I know rednecks all too well, having grown up around them. It all rings true. The craziest of the attackers is played well over the top by James Woods, but it’s that kind of part. The ex-boyfriend is played by … no kidding? Alexander Skarsgård. Damn, those Swedes are good. You would never guess he was born and raised in Stockholm. The only casting that didn’t work for me was James Marsden in the Hoffman role. He’s too damn pretty. Though he’s now a screenwriter instead of a math whiz, I just thought it would have been better if he had looked more the bookish type, not a matinee idol.