For those who saw the original "Straw Dogs"(1971) by director Sam Peckinpah, you will definitely walk out of this new remake scratching your head wondering what director Rod Lurie was trying to accomplish.


For those who are seeing "Straw Dogs" for the first time, you will probably wlak out the film scratching your head wondering what director Rod Lurie was trying to accomplish. Either way, prepare for a head scratching.


The original "Straw Dogs" is one of those films that I define as safe to remake. Though it was originally done by a great director and starred starred great actors (in the 1971 version Dustin Hoffman and Susan George play the leads), it was not a memorable film. In the case of the 1971 version, it was released at the same time as "The French Connection", "Dirty Harry" "A Clockwork Orange" and "Fiddler on the Roof". It is not likely anyone is going to remake "Dirty Harry" so why not shoot for the one no one remembers.

Lurie tweaked the David Zelag Goodman/Sam Peckinpah screenplay and shifted the scene from England to Louisiana. He then watched "Of Mice and Men" and "I Spit on your Grave" to borrow elements from them as well. Voila! New movie!


The biggest problem is there are far too many loose ends and scenes that simply don't make sense.


In short, James Marsden and Kate Bosworth are David and Amy Sumner, two successful Los Angelinos relocating to her childhood home of Blackwater, Louisiana. This is a town which Amy, couldn't wait to escape, but now feels comfortable returning to with husband in tow. David is looking for the quiet solitude so he can continue his career as a screenwriter.


They are immediately greeted by local town legend Charlie (Alexander Skarsgard) who was a big high school football player; he is also Amy's former beau. Naturally, he's big and strapping compared to the meek David and makes sure David knows it every chance he can.


David (of course) hires Charlie and his crew of hooligans to rebuild the roof on the barn of their secluded home far away from town. During the course of reconstructing the barn Amy makes sure to taunt the good-ole-boy's by scantily flouncing herself in front of them in every kind on Southern stereotype ever known. This of course builds the tension between David and Charlie as well as Charlie and the entire crew.


Meanwhile, another local called Coach (James Woods) stays drunk and spends most of is time taunting the local mentally challenged guy named Jeremy (Dominic Purcell) who may or may not have been a convicted pedophile. Of course, Jeromy's current object of affection is Coach's daughter Janice (Willa Holland).

One thing leads to another and Janice is killed, Amy is assaulted, Dave manhood is put on the line and we get a final bloody scene similar to the original.


Key problems arise when you consider Davids smug attitude, especially when he arrives in backwoods Louisiana in a classic Jaguar E-type. Who would drive an E-type in Louisiana backwoods? This is NASCAR and pick-up truck country, not sleek European sports car territory! He blasts Tchaikovsky out his stereo here in country music country.


Why does it take Amy three fourths of the film before she suddenly realizes why she left this backwater burg in the first place? Whose idea was it to move there hers or Davids? Why was Amy prancing around half-naked... and then naked... and not expecting the hooligans to pursue her?


It all culminates in a very violent, but very clumsy ending of improbabilities. You might find yourself rooting for the hooligans because you essentially don't care about David and Amy. Marsden and Bosworth are no Hoffman and George.


While the backwoods yokels probably should have been picking on David and Amy, I felt no pity. The over the top ending is reminiscent of "I Spit on Your Grave" but was Lurie attempt to mask the plot gaps.


"Straw Dogs" is as disappointing as a remake can be; there are far too many loose ends (like whatever happened to Jeremy). It finishes as just another southern cliche.   -- GEOFF BURTON