‘Straw Dogs’ thrills, grips audience

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By Dyanna Llamas / Staff Writer

Small towns and their strange problems (Screen Cems)

By Dyanna Llamas / Staff Writer

From the very first trailer, “Straw Dogs” promised to be a very intense experience, but intense is hardly the word to describe this violent, edge-of-the-seat and emotionally provoking film.

David Sumner, played by James Marsden, is a movie script writer in need of some peace and quiet to contemplate his next big story.

To get away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, he decides to take his wife Amy, played by Kate Bosworth, back to her hometown of Blackwater, Mississippi, to stay at her old house that’s in need of repair after a series of devastating storms.

The couple is welcomed home by the town, including Amy’s old high school fling Charlie (Alexander Skarsgard) who hasn’t quite gotten over her, and his crew of ex football friends.

Charlie and his posse volunteer to help rebuild the roof of Amy’s house.

Amy and David agree, a decision that winds up having fateful consequences.

David is already disconcerted by some of the weird customs in the town, such as people’s tendency to take the law into their own hands.

Jeremy Niles (Dominic Purcell) is continually pushed around by the drunk ex football coach, Tom Heddon (James Wood), who accused him of going after his daughter Janice (Willa Holland). Interestingly, it is actually Janice who keeps coming on to Jeremy.

But things start to get really hairy when Charlie tricks David into going hunting, leaving his wife with Charlie and one of his friends, who then proceed to rape her.

David meanwhile is left on the hunting grounds and realizes he’s been tricked.

After managing to get a ride home from the sheriff, David returns to find his wife angry and terrified. She begs to leave the town but David refuses and says they will stand their ground.

Knowing David will not leave, she angrily tells him it’s a tradition to go to the football game that night.

While at the game Amy keeps getting flashbacks of the rape incident and asks David to leave with her back home. Charlie and his friends just sit, silently watching her.

Meanwhile Jeremy gets tangled in the web when Janice comes to him and sexually provokes him.

He finally falls for her and the two take a walk together, eventually ending up in the equipment room.

Coach Heddon notices his daughter is not with the cheerleaders and goes crazy wondering where she is.

One of the cheerleaders tells him she saw Janice walking with Jeremy.

The furious coach then asks Charlie and his boys to look for them.

In a moment of panic, Jeremy runs out of the room and onto the street where the Sumners’ accidentally hit him with their car.

The nearest hospital is of course too far away, a fact that seals the couple’s fate. So they take Jeremy to their home and decide to wait for the ambulance there.

Charlie learns that the Sumners’ took Jeremy to their house and goes there to kill him.

Tension builds up as Charlie and his posse arrive at the Sumners’ home and ask for Jeremy but David refuses to give him up.

When the town sheriff comes to the home David believes the sheriff is on their side and so asks for the state police in order to get Jeremy.

Coach Heddon, furious that he can’t take matters into his own hands, shoots and kills the sheriff. This is where David reaches a breaking point and becomes determined to do whatever he can to get Jeremy out the house and kill whoever tries to stop him.     

Gripping and gruesome, director Rod Lurie does a great job at holding his audience firmly the entire hour and 45 minutes of the thriller. Even though all the events connect in the end, there’s still this “what happens next?” feeling that is both satisfying and thought-provoking. 

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