Warning: This Dog Bites

Pointless remake piles on the violence

It’s a good thing Sam Peckinpah isn't alive to see Rod Lurie’s wholly unnecessary remake of 1971's Straw Dogs, which strips away Peckinpah’s literary themes and wallows in redneck stereotypes. Peckinpah’s artfully choreographed violence, controversial in 1971, is transformed for post-Saw audiences into standard horror-movie shock.

Protagonist David (James Marsden) is a screenwriter here, married to actress Amy (Kate Bosworth). They retreat to the most odious Southern backwater this side of Deliverance, populated by gun-toting primitives, including Amy’s ex-boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard), who detests David and his effete Jaguar-driving Hollywood ways. Peckinpah explored the conflict between science and religion and the irrelevancy of intellectualism in a primitive world; Lurie’s theme is tritely political, centering on the divide between liberals and God-and-guns Southern rustics.

In thrall to the thing he's defiling, Lurie faithfully apes the original – the hanged cat, the rape, the apocalyptic bloodbath – but without style, artistry, or significance. --Pamela Zoslov

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