Reason Writers at the Movies: Peter Suderman Reviews Straw Dogs in The Washington Times


Reason Associate Editor Peter Suderman reviews director Rod Lurie's Americanized, politicized remake of Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs in today's Washington Times:

For decades, dramatists and filmmakers have followed playwright Anton Chekhov's rule that a gun placed above a mantel at the beginning of a story must be used in the end. "Straw Dogs" ups the ante: Forget the gun hung above the fireplace. What about a bear trap?

Director Rod Lurie's Americanized remake borrows the hanging steel trap, and much else, from Sam Peckinpah's gritty 1971 classic about class, education and social friction in rural England.

Mr. Lurie, who gets a co-writing credit alongside the film's original scripters, has moved the setting to the contemporary American South, but he's also left quite a bit alone. It's a surprisingly respectful adaptation, with many scenes and lines of dialogue remaining virtually unchanged.

But the tweaks he's made don't make the remake any better—quite the opposite. And the bits that remain the same lack the unsettling kick of Peckinpah's original. Mr. Lurie has managed the neat but unfortunate trick of being simultaneously too faithful and not faithful enough.

Whole thing here