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Second Generation Torture Porn

Torture porn has been the reigning king of the horror genre for about eight years now (we'll consider the Saw franchise the beginning of this era). It's defining quality is excessive violence used with no higher purpose than making money (exhibit A: Eli Roth's high-grossing Hostel). I'm not sure I've even dabbled in any of these films, but it seems far too horrific to warrant my dime or time. Even with ultra-violent slasher flicks like My Bloody Valentine 3-D on the horizon, I thought the subgenre was on its way out. But not so.

It's being reimagined. I recently watched the trailer for horror master Wes Craven's remake of 1972's The Last House on the Left. The new film of the same name seems to be an extension of Michael Haneke's "high-brow," savaged-by-critics Funny Games, which New York's David Edelstein called "high-toned torture porn with an edge of righteousness."

2009's The Last House on the Left makes no promise of being art (Naomi Watts is nowhere to be seen). Rather than senseless, post-Abu Ghraib violence, Craven delivers a picture that looks to be senseless violence against an innocent victim met by vengeful violence from the victim's family. It's like a gory morality tale. Craven's latest cinematic offering is not just torture porn--it's torture porn with heart. He is ushering in a new wave of the subgenre. Horror fans, saw hello to second generation torture porn.

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