Daniela Virgilio as Aurora
Daniele Grassetti as Rino
Gennaro Diana as Antonio
Santa De Santis as Clara
David Pietroni as Cesare
Directed by Gabriele Albanesi
No one goes into a movie that's title begins with "Last House..." and expects a really groundbreaking plot. Right from the start of Last House In The Woods (Italian title - Il Bosco Fuori), we are told where the influence lies, namely, Wes Craven's Last House On The Left. And at least the filmmakers are being honest about it, rather than idiotically trying to deny where the idea for the story came from (Chaos, anyone?). But Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel are also clearly an influence on writer/director Gabriele Albanesi, not to mention the splatter stylings of Lucio Fulci.
This doesn't keep the film from being enjoyable, however. A little honesty goes a long away, and once you know that you're not in for anything but a Doomsday style mix-match of genre classics, you should enjoy what this House has to offer.
The film begins with a family swerving off the road and hitting a tree. The father is instantly killed, and the mother gets creamed when she runs into the road seeking assistance. Their son witnesses all of this, and is then chased into the woods by the driver of the car. We then cut to an undetermined amount of time later, as we meet Aurora (Daniela Virgilio) and Rino (Daniele Grassetti), a young couple who are in the middle of discussing their ex-lovers. It's clear that the girl is "winning" this particular race, which upsets Rino. We then cut AGAIN to a bit later - the couple has broken up, but while she has moved on, he has not, and begs her to have a talk. She gets into his car, and they drive off to the middle of nowhere for their discussion.
OK, so we're not dealing with rocket scientists here, but the film luckily picks up soon thereafter and doesn't let up. The two are attacked by a group of drugged-out punks out for a night on the town (think the punks in Lamberto Bava's Demons), and subsequently rescued by a seemingly mild-mannered couple. But anyone who knows their horror movies (and Albanesi clearly does) knows that it's not so simple, and that the would-be saviors are the ones they should really fear.
The film takes a few nice, if not exactly original, twists and turns along the way (the boy in the opening eventually ties into the main plot, resulting in the film's strangest plot development) for a film that is far bloodier and nastier than I was expecting. In fact, one gag in particular made me, well, gag (one of the bad guys has a nasty lump/tumor type thing on his neck â€“ guess what happens to it?), a truly rare occurrence. The acting and technical aspects of the film are nothing spectacular (not a surprise, or even a detriment; the budget on this thing was less than 70k), but the script's energy and impressive makeup effects more than make up for it. And if you like the electronic/synth based scores of certain Argento/Fulci films, you will probably love what composers Filippo Barbieri and Federico Bruno have come up with here. The final piece in particular, which plays over the film's coda and end credits, is a masterpiece. I guarantee you'll want to rewind it and listen to it again.
Again, there's nothing really original here in terms of plot. At one point, the girl escapes and runs into two standard movie rednecks. Are they part of the same group she just escaped? Of course they are, and that's just one of many examples. If that type of thing bothers you, then I urge you steer clear. Otherwise, it's definitely effective as a low-budget homage to the films already mentioned, and should earn a nice cult status when it is finally released to DVD (it's been playing festivals around the world for the past two years). And I certainly look forward to Albanesi's next film, provided that it's something he came up with on his own.