Straw Dogs

Successful actress Amy Sumner (Kate Bosworth) is returning from her big city life to her southern hometown of Blackwater. Along with Amy is her well-educated and wealthy husband, David Sumner (James Marsdon). David quickly finds this vacation is filled with tension, particularly when it comes to Amy’s ex-boyfriend, Charlie (Alexander Skarsgård), who is not ready to be out of her life. So it is up to the weakling Harvard hero to protect his relationship, home, and way of life in a town he doesn’t quite understand.

A remake of the 1971 thriller classic of the same name, “Straw Dogs” has lost a lot of its appeal and logic with time. It still has gory moments and the plot is very similar to the original but many of the base thrills have been lost in the move to a present day setting.

This film asks the viewers to suspend disbelief, ignore a number of unfinished back-stories, and stand behind characters who are not engaging or believable. Details, both big and small miss the mark. James Marsdon is incorrectly suited as the shy bumbling academic. The house is a seeming fortress for no apparent reason. The side stories, interesting detractions from the overly built tension between the two leading males, are left unresolved.

Additionally, the themes are awkward and incomplete. There are literary throwbacks and some blatant social commentary but all of the film’s depth is lost on an audience who has no reason to care. Viewers will be preoccupied wondering what the point of the film is.

Sure, the story is engrossing and it does force self-analysis, but the modern adaptation would have benefitted from serious editorial cuts. Had the film been completed in a quarter of the time it might have actually managed to be thrilling!

Unbalanced, vapid, and pointless as a thriller “Straw Dogs” falls prey to the unnecessary remake trap. For a real psychological thrill it would be better to opt for the original.