“Straw Dogs” is a brutal remake of a 1970’s film of the same name that is just as brutal and
Though most can argue that today’s audiences are a little desensitized, the original, which
starred Dustin Hoffman, was a ground breaking work of it’s time. It followed “A Clockwork
Orange” and “Dirty Harry” in 1971, a year that most deemed as a turning point in violent
Surprisingly, “Straw Dogs” is not a horror film as it’s marketing would lead you to believe, but
a drama about reaching your breaking point and also, revenge.
In the remake, Hoffman’s nerdy mathematician is replaced with David (James Marsden),
a screenwriter, and his TV actress wife Amy (Kate Bosworth). The couple abandon Los
Angeles in favor of moving to Blackwater, Miss., Amy’s hometown. Amy hopes to rebuild her
father’s old house and David hopes to finish a script.
The town is a living stereotype of a redneck South: everyone knows everyone’s business
and there are guns and confederate flags everywhere. They encounter Amy’s ex-boyfriend
Charlie (Alexander Skarsgard), his trio of friends, the town drunk Tom (James Woods), and a
mentally handicapped man named Jeremy (Dominic Purcell).
The town is both enthralled and enraged by Amy and David’s stories of Hollywood. In
Blackwater, real jobs entail blood and sweat, not cameras or computers. Charlie and his
posse tease David for his glasses, his hair, and the flashy Jaguar he drives. They also harass
Amy and even their pet cat falls victim. Still, David insists that they won’t be chased out of
their own home.
Amy is the one that suffers the most, but it’s David that makes the transformation and it’s
ultimately his story. The tricks and treatment he endures at the hands of Charlie and his
posse are weights that push him further and further. On the surface, it may seem like a home
invasion movie, but “Straw Dogs” is about a more personal invasion: your limits, your space.
This isn’t a film about David becoming monstrous like the rest of the towns people, it’s more
about him extracting his rightful revenge when society turns it’s back.
It’s a gory drama and a well crafted film for the most part though the characters or the story
aren’t explored in depth enough for you to really care for them. The pacing is fast which is
why the characters are left so unexplored and spends too much time dwelling on scenes or
dialogue that isn’t important. The social commentary that the original film held is also barely
Ultimately, you leave caring about David. You want them to be okay and for Charlie and his
friends to get what’s coming to them.
And they do.