Note: That’s actually the (much cooler) poster for the 1971 version of Straw Dogs with Dustin Hoffman which I have never seen and can’t seem to find anywhere. The only thing I really know about the original is that it had some very unsettling violence for the time and was either banned or censored all over the place. Here’s another note – the wife and I went to high school with
Jimmy James Marsden and it’s always exciting to see him in his films. This also has Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgard and (believe it or not) a very good James Woods as the vile and crusty ex-coach of small town Blackwater, Mississippi where bars don’t accept credit cards, people say things like “Cash is what poor people use”, it’s acceptable to go ahead and sit in the new guy’s convertible Jag and it’s no problem to the roofer to walk into the main house, grab a beer and eat an apricot.
David (Marsden) and Amy (Bosworth) have left the screenwriting, shoes-with-no-shoelaces L.A. scene and relo-d back to Amy’s hometown of Blackwater to get some peace, do some writin’ and fix up the house she grew up in. Sure enough the contractors are all of Amy’s old friends (because everyone knows everyone here), including her ex-high school boyfriend, chiseled and frequently shirtless Charlie (Skarsgard). Of course, Amy was the city sweetheart who moved away while all of the football players stayed around basking in their glory, so when she comes back married to a big-shot movie maker, they don’t take kindly to him. It’s certainly not good that she jogs around with barely anything on, it doesn’t make things any better when he leaves in the middle of the church sermon to take a nap in the Jag and things just start to get worse from there, both with the locals and in the home. As things continue to escalate, the point of the movie becomes: how much can one person or two people take before they finally break and what happens next.
There’s also an interesting side story involving a mentally handicapped fellow named Jeremy Niles (Dominic Purcell) and Wood’s teenage daughter. I think he played this role extremely well – typically these types of characters can easily end up being played like Simple Jack (from Tropic Thunder). In any case, the story with Niles and Wood’s daughter is the catalyst for what was, for me, a very violent, bloody, tense and effective ending. I think
Jimmy James did an excellent job when it came to the second half, especially when it required his character to grow a pair and stand up to these redneck assholes. I also think Skarsgard is going to have some trouble escaping the role of Eric Northman, since that seems to be what he’s got going on here. I also thought slimy James Woods did an excellent job and this definitely makes me want to see the original. Last note: I loved the way Skarsgard was dealt with at the very end.