This is not the George C. Scott/Paul Schrader movie HARDCORE, this is the 2004 Greek movie HARDCORE that I only rented when I read that the director, Dennis Iliadis, was hired to do a remake of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. So this is kind of a review and kind of a scouting mission.
This is the story of two teenage prostitutes, told from the POV of the less crazy one. They are in love but they are always fucking other people, especially the crazier one Nadia, who loves to manipulate rich older men to get what she wants out of life. Along the way there is some blood, some cocaine, some suicide, lots of depression, lots of disturbing passionless fucking and dildoing.
It reminds me of plenty of junkie-chic and crime movies, where the heroes are fucked up in a way that you’re supposed to feel sorry for them but also think they’re kind of glamorous and sexy. Because of how fucked up they are. The tone is very hip and trying to offend sensibilities, but there’s also a little bit of HEAVENLY CREATURES in there with the way these two are kind of lesbians, kind of little girls who play together, kind of homicidal.
I don’t know how bad the world needed another movie like this, but maybe Greece needed one. I am not real familiar with their film scene, by which I mean this might be the first Greek movie I ever watched in my life, I’m not sure. So this might be a more original type of subject matter in the context of Greek film than if you compare it to American or British movies.
Either way, if you can get into that type of thing this is a well made movie, I thought it was pretty good. This guy is clearly a music video director, but not in the quick cuts and flying cameras sense. More in the a guy who would be friends with Spike Jonze sense. It’s pretty calm, not too hyperkinetic, and with more quiet moments than even a non-music-video-director usually gives you. There is more than one crucial moment where the song on the soundtrack is doing just fine but it abruptly cuts off so you can just hear the quiet, maybe some breathing, maybe some sobbing.
And there are little gimmicks like the ol’ Spike Lee float, furniture disappearing in a shot to illustrate the passage of time, a fantasy sequence where the characters are in the intro to a TV show that’s supposed to be like Beverly Hills 90210. But these type of tricks are spread out enough that they don’t seem like the whole show. To me it feels more like DRUGSTORE COWBOY than a Michel Gondry movie.
Here’s an example of a real smart scene. This is one of them spoilers by the way. The two girls go away on a vacation together. While they are gone, their pimp (really more like an office manager than a pimp) finds out about the rich john Nadia has been fucking on the side, not cutting the organization in on the take. We see that he knows, but the girls don’t know he knows, at least as far as we know. When they come home they have a purple post-it note from the boss. We know from earlier that purple represents a really high paying but degrading job where they have to get gangbanged by a bunch of rich people. But Nadia’s not worried about it. They take the note and we see them walking down a hall. And it keeps cutting to a door with a bunch of cheesy party decorations on it, and inside the apartment are 3 big muscular skinhead thugs with bats. So clearly they are being set up. Oh no, we think. We don’t want this to happen to them. But it keeps cutting to them strutting down the hall, to the door, to the thugs inside.
Finally, the girls come to a door – but not the same door. They open it to find their pimp in bed with two young girls, and they pull a gun on him. Ah ha, we realize. They knew he was setting them up. They were headed toward a different door the whole time. We are relieved that they’re safe, and kind of excited about this idea that they’re gonna kill this sleazeball who degrades them. But then after they kill him, they also kill the two girls, innocent people no different from themselves. So we go from fear to relief to sadism to disgust, all in one tightly edited scene.
The stars, apparently none of them celebrities even in Greece, elevate the material. You get alot out of their facial expressions. The girl that plays Nadia is especially good. She’s boyishly skinny but assertive and crazy enough that she manages to seem very alluring. She has that charisma where you kind of love her and kind of fear her. Which is exactly how her friend feels about her in the movie.
I should probaly declare my stance on this LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT remake. I’m against it. Not because of the usual they’re gonna ruin it reasons, but more of a that’s the last thing we need is this generation of morons watching this shit and not understanding it. It seems like either the filmatists are gonna water the story down and nobody will understand why this movie was ever a big deal, or they’ll stay true to the pitch black brutality of the original and young teens will go see it for a fun night of socializing with their friends and getting OH MY GOD, TOTALLY FREAKED OUT by the rape and murder of these girls. Something tells me the typical modern horror audience will not pick up on Craven’s idea of the family losing their humanity when they get their revenge. They’ll just think it’s a horror movie and either it’s cool or it’s gay.
But you know what, if they HAVE to remake it, this Greek here is not a bad choice. The fact that he’s directing it makes me more curious to see what they come up with. First of all, he does such a good job with these young girls here. He makes them sympathetic even though they’re snorting coke and doing gangbangs for money. One fear with the story is that if the girls just come across as typical bad horror heroines it will diminish the horribleness of the crime against them. In this movie Iliadis clearly identifies strongly with the girls, so hopefully he be able to do that in LAST HOUSE. In fact, this is an area that could be improved over Craven’s version. But they’re not in the whole movie, and they spend most of their time crying and pleading, so it would be harder to develop them further as characters. It makes me wonder if it might not be such a bad idea to have one of the girls barely survive and come stumbling in at the end to finish off the revenge. That might be cheap, but it might be satisfying. I’m not sure.
Another factor, Iliadis did a good job of portraying a criminal underground, making it seem real even though it’s pretty movie-fied. So I imagine he could do a good job with the gang here.
And Iliadis is not too flashy. Flashier than Craven, but he’s not what we would call nu-horror. He knows how to hold a shot and he doesn’t throw guitars and beats on everything. He can take the material seriously and he can be taken seriously.
Good luck buddy, please don’t make a sucky movie, but don’t corrupt the minds of our youth too bad either.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.