Straw Dogs follows the life of David and Amy Sumner (James Marsden and Kate Bosworth), recently married and looking to hide away temporarily whilst David finds the peace and harmony required to finish his screenplay in Amy’s hometown. The not so loving locals, however, have different ideas, particularly Amy’s ex boyfriend who is still holding on to the past.
The remake of Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 ‘video nasty’ sticks somewhat to the narrative of the original, with locations and job titles changed along the way. Whereas the original still holds the ability to scare and outrage the viewer, the remake seems to drag along, attempting to build up suspense with an extremely bloody final act.
Marsden draws us in with some charm in his screenwriting hero, and whilst he does play average Joe well, he takes to violence a little too easily, especially for a man who apparently opposes it. Bosworth holds up strong as the tougher than husband wife, resenting her other half for apparently not being man enough for her (didn’t she know this when she married him?).
Charlie (Alexander Skarsgard) and crew play the role of villains with little conviction, and when Charlie and his best pal perform an unthinkable act upon Amy, it holds far less shock than the original. This is only weakened further when Amy makes next to no fuss about the situation, pleading once to leave the town and not even telling her husband why, before venturing off to watch a football game (as we all would in such a situation).
Enter final act, and it’s a bloody one. The original delivered a climax that we could believe in; the protagonists were pushed to the limits and had no other way out but to react in such a violent manor. The remake seems to force the situation upon our protagonists, and when the villains come knocking at the door it’s for someone else’s problems, with David insisting he has to get involved. Of course, this leads to the extremely bloody outcome we’ve been expecting since the opening credits.
Whilst the film holds some good character performances, the plot doesn’t entice the viewer and draw them into the world. The first two acts of the film feel far too bare, existing purely to roll us into a bloody third act that’s too unconvincing to believe in. Whereas the original has the ability to shock and provide an extreme look into what a man is capable of when pushed to the limit, the remake merely drags along in an effort to provide some gore and poorly crafted entertainment.