Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs is one of the grislier stories ever committed to film. The movie’s morals are grey, its characters ugly and it paints a visual palette as gritty as the director’s Westerns, making the real world setting exponentially more disturbing. Simply put, the film’s in a league of its own.
So when Rod Lurie (The Contender, TV’s Commander in Chief) announced that he’d be directing a remake, fans of the 1971 original were, expectedly, confused and more than a little irked. Straw Dogs feels born from its era, a movie that tackles material Hollywood wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole—what would a modern version bring to the table?
But that’ the reason I’m anxiously anticipating the new incarnation. Straw Dogs feels untouchable, yet I’m endlessly fascinated about how a contemporary version would reinterpret Peckinpah’s violent vision. Remakes can afford opportunities, for great actors (in this case, the underrated Kate Bosworth, James Marsden and Alexander Skarsgård) to play new games in a familiar sandbox, for a director to use an older story to illustrate modern perspectives and, most importantly, to develop a similar concept that, instead of brushing off obvious comparisons, confronts them. If the setup feels like Straw Dogs, call it Straw Dogs…then shake it up and let loose.
I don’t know what to expect from the new version of the film, but what’s encouraging is that this new clip doesn’t jump straight into the brutal confrontation between a man and his wife (Marsden and Bosworth) and the townie thug that starts giving them trouble (Skarsgård). This taste of the film concentrates on a quiet moment, in which Bosworth drops an emotional bomb no husband wants to hear. Lurie allows the unnerving experience to play out intimately. honing in on the fear in Bosworth’s eyes, which carry more weight and terror than any number of jump scares. Creepy.