Straw Dogs (2011 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rod Lurie|
|Screenplay by||Rod Lurie|
|Music by||Larry Groupé|
|Edited by||Sarah Boyd|
|Distributed by||Screen Gems|
|Box office||$11.2 million|
Straw Dogs is a 2011 American psychological thriller/action film directed, produced, and written by Rod Lurie. It is a remake of Sam Peckinpah's 1971 film Straw Dogs, itself lightly based on the Gordon Williams novel The Siege of Trencher's Farm. It stars James Marsden and Kate Bosworth.
Scriptwriter David Sumner (James Marsden) and his wife Amy (Kate Bosworth) relocate to rural Mississippi where Amy grew up. They are going to live in the house of Amy's recently deceased father and to allow David to finish a script.
While in town one afternoon, David meets Amy's ex-boyfriend Charlie (Alexander Skarsgård) and his three friends, Norman (Rhys Coiro), Chris (Billy Lush), and Bic (Drew Powell). David is intimidated by the men, but they have already been hired to fix the roof of the barn on Amy's property. He also meets Tom Heddon (James Woods), a former high school football coach whose 15-year-old daughter Janice (Willa Holland) is attracted to a local man with an intellectual disability, Jeremy Niles (Dominic Purcell). Heddon often bullies Jeremy, and believes that he is stalking his daughter.
Charlie and his friends arrive early the next morning to work on the roof. They taunt David, which later escalates into harassment. They also make crude remarks towards Amy and play their music loud to distract David while he writes. They often leave early when they want to go hunting, which concerns David because it is taking them forever to finish the roof.
One Sunday after church, Heddon attacks Jeremy for talking to Janice, and Amy comes to his defense, but David warns her to not get involved. Later that night back at home, David discovers their cat strangled and hung up in the bedroom closet. Amy is positive that Charlie and his friends are to blame as they disappeared from the church barbeque for a few hours earlier, but David is hesitant to confront them. When he does finally question them, the men deny everything.
Charlie invites David to go deer hunting. While David is out in the woods with two of the men, Charlie goes back to the house and pushes his way inside to confront Amy, because he is sure that she still wants him. He throws her onto the couch and forces her to have sex with him. Afterwards, he realizes that Amy did not want this, and is stunned. Norman arrives, holds Amy across the top of the couch, and also rapes her while Charlie watches. Then they leave. When David returns, Amy is upset but she does not tell him what happened. Instead, she encourages David to get rid of Charlie and his men and fire them. The next day David tells Charlie that fixing the roof is taking too long. Charlie insists that they have already paid for the roofing supplies, which David agrees to pay for. Finally, Charlie and his cronies leave, celebrating their $5000 payday.
David and Amy go to a local football game. Cheerleader Janice lures Jeremy to enter an empty locker room. Heddon notices that his daughter is missing from the game and goes in search of her. Meanwhile, Janice tries to convince Jeremy to let her give him oral sex. They hear Heddon calling for Janice. Afraid of Heddon finding them, Jeremy holds Janice tight against his body with his hand over her mouth and nose, accidentally smothering her to death. Horrified, he runs away from the school. Heddon goes back to tell Charlie and his friends that Janice is missing. They all suspect that Jeremy has done something to her.
At the game, Amy has haunting flashbacks about the rapes and asks David to take her home. On the way, she tells him that she wants to return to Los Angeles, surprising him and causing him to accidentally run over Jeremy who is standing in the road. David and Amy take him back to their home and call an ambulance. Charlie and Norman overhear the ambulance call on a police scanner and inform Heddon. They all drive to David and Amy's house and demand that the couple hand Jeremy over, but David refuses. The sheriff arrives shortly thereafter and tries to calm down the situation. He knocks on the door and tells David to open the door, but David still refuses. Heddon picks up his gun again and shoots the sheriff dead. Having witnessed the murder, David knows now that the men will try to kill not only Jeremy but both of them too. David and Amy barricade the doors shut. He enlists her to help him open the jaws of a decorative bear trap. Then he sends Amy upstairs with Jeremy. David looks frantically for something he can use in the house to fight off the men.
When Chris attempts to enter through a window, David nails his hands to the wall with a nail gun, his throat fatally exposed to broken glass. When Heddon tries to follow, David burns his face with hot oil. Heddon and Charlie use the pick-up truck to ram into the house, but Charlie is knocked unconscious. David fights Heddon off and causes him to shoot himself in the foot. David then shoots Heddon and beats Bic to death with a fireplace poker.
Upstairs, Amy and Jeremy are attacked by Norman, who has climbed in through the window. Norman is attempting to rape Amy again when David and Charlie appear. Charlie and Norman draw on each other when Norman threatens to kill Amy. Amy shoots Norman, Charlie assaults and disarms her, then David jumps him. Charlie kicks David down the stairs and beats him severely. While David lies prostrate on the floor, disarmed, Charlie prepares to shoot him in his head when Amy approaches from behind, pointing the gun at him. Turning to her, Charlie informs her the gun is empty, and says to her, "I will always protect you, baby," when David rises behind him and slams the open bear trap down on his head, which shuts and ensnares him. Charlie slowly dies.
As sirens are heard, with the adjacent barn in flames, David says, "I got 'em all".
- James Marsden as David Sumner
- Kate Bosworth as Amy Sumner
- Alexander Skarsgård as Charlie Venner
- Dominic Purcell as Jeremy Niles
- Rhys Coiro as Norman
- Willa Holland as Janice Heddon
- James Woods as "Coach" Tom Heddon
- Billy Lush as Chris
- Laz Alonso as Sheriff John Burke
- Walton Goggins as Daniel Niles
- Anson Mount as Coach Milkens
- Drew Powell as Bic
The film was originally scheduled for release on February 25, 2011. However the date was pushed to September 16, 2011. The film began shooting on August 16, 2009 in Shreveport and Vivian, Louisiana.
The film received mixed reviews; Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 40% based on reviews from 121 critics, with the consensus "This remake streamlines the plot but ultimately makes a fatal mistake: It celebrates violence". Metacritic gives the film a score of 45% based on 29 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Carrie Rickey of the Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film 1.5 out of 4 stars stating that Straw Dogs "almost succeeds as an object lesson in the difference between being a man and being a macho animal. But it fails as a gripping home-invasion thriller". Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune called the film "a bird-brained remake" that is "miscast, barely functional in terms of technique, stupid and unnecessary" and rated it 1 out of 4 stars. Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe, wrote that watching Straw Dogs was like "being waterboarded by liberals outside a Democratic National Committee event".
Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times had reviewed the original version back in 1971. He gave the 2011 film 3 out of a possible 4 stars, and states "This new version of "Straw Dogs" is a reasonably close adaptation of the 1971 film by Sam Peckinpah. Change the location from England to Mississippi, change a mathematician into a screenwriter, keep the bear trap and the cat found strangled, and it tells the same story. It is every bit as violent. I found it visceral, disturbing and well-made", and said he preferred it to the original.
Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News was also favorable towards the film, giving it 4 out of 5 stars, declaring that "while Lurie could have gone lighter on the symbolism, he ratchets up the tension with deft intelligence. He's not just making a thriller but a horror film, and we feel his own fear in every scene".
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- Carrie Rickey (2011-09-16). "Remake fails as home-invasion thriller". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
- Phillips, Michael (September 15, 2011). "'Straw Dogs' a '70s provocation rendered senseless by a remake". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
- Wesley Morris (2011-09-16). "Straw Dogs". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
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- Roger Ebert (2011-09-14). "Straw Dogs". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2011-09-18.
- Elizabeth Weitzman (2011-09-16). "Straw Dogs". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2011-09-30.