First off, let's get something straight. I am not "anti-violence" when it comes to choosing a movie to see.
In fact, if there's lots of action involving high-speed chases, machine guns, treachery and a bad guy getting his or her "come-uppance," you can find me usually standing in line on a film's opening night so I don't have to worry about someone else spoiling the ending for me the next day.
It's impossible to define what's an "acceptable" level of violence in a movie and what's purely gratuitous. "Saving Private Ryan" is a case in point - in fact, even network television has shown this movie UNEDITED because the violence and carnage was such a necessary and socially-redeeming element. Acceptable versus non-acceptable violence on the silver screen harkens back to a debacle involving the definition of "hard-core" pornagraphy, made famous in the 1964 U.S. Supreme Court by Justice Potter Stewart, who said he could not define it...but he knew it when he saw it.
This same litmus test is equally applicable to movie violence - it's impossible to define what's acceptable and what isn't, but you know it when you see it.
Such is the case with the recently released movie "Last House on the Left." When you see this movie, you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that an undefined line HAS been grotesquely crossed - even for a scary / horror / slasher genre movie.
The director of this remake from the 1972 original has gone out of his way to glorify violent murder, torture and, the most disturbing topic of all - an agonizingly long rape scene involving a 17-year-old girl abducted by an ex-con, a demented relative and his "woman" who brutally murder two police officers during a prisoner transport in the opening minutes of the film.
I always find it interesting to eavesdrop on other people's reactions to a movie when walking out of a theater. In the case of "Last House on the Left," the majority of people I observed looked pale and stunned. No "Man, that movie rocked!" or "That's the way a scary movie SHOULD be." Just silence...and a longing to get out of the theater and back into the mall as quickly as possible in order to be distracted by ANYTHING to replace the disturbing images this movie dished out. And this from people who presumably go for this genre of movie.
I had not one, but TWO separate nightmares after seeing a matinee showing of this flick. And that's coming from someone who very rarely has a problem (knock on wood) with sleep. I can't imagine what the night would have been like had I seen an evening showing.
Bottom line? Save your money and make a U-turn if you find yourself heading down the road toward "The Last House on the Left."