Straw Dogs (2011) Blu-ray review

This remake of the 1971 drama/thriller stars James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgard, and James Woods.  With such a decent cast, it should have been a little better. It had a poor reception at the box office mainly due to going up against the re-release of The Lion King in 3D, Contagion, Drive and the Help.  These were a few heavy hitters at the time so I’m sure it was tough.

It is Directed by Rod Lurie who also directed The Contender (2000) and The Last Castle (2001).  Aside from a few films, his credentials mostly list TV productions and the movie does show with a  “made for TV” feel.  Meaning you’re hoping the next episode will explain the characters a little more but it’s a movie.

A young married couple David (James Marsden) and Amy Sumner (Kate Bosworth) are moving to Blackwater, Mississippi for a short time while repairs are made to Amy’s father’s house.   There was some considerable damage to the barn in a hurricane.  The small town is where Amy grew up and left after high school to make it in Hollywood.  She was briefly on a crime-based TV show which is where she and David met.  He was a writer for the show.  David saw this as an excellent opportunity to write a movie script about the WWII opposition of the Russians vs the Nazis in Stalingrad.  He has a deadline of 3 weeks and is feeling pressure from his agent.

After arriving in the town, David meets Charlie (Alexander Skarsgard) and Coach Heddon (James Woods), the town drunk while having lunch at Blackie’s Tavern.  Amy is recognized right away by Charlie as he is a bidding contractor that wants to do the roof on the barn.  Due to their, history, David hires him on the spot and finds out after that he is her ex.

As soon as the work begins on the house, so do the problems.  Mostly due to the ways of a small town as opposed to Hollywood.  Boundaries are different and its an adjustment for everyone but it makes things uncomfortable for the couple.  There begins the slippery slope and a game of dominance.

This movie seems to have many underlying stories and subplots that are not explained at all.  It’s almost as if the director was expecting an uncut version to explain a few things.  Its also possible that the studio cut the movie short.  You are wanting to know more about Amy and Charlie’s past, her relationship with the other guys in the crew, and people in the town  This review won’t go into everything, but the issues just seem to be below the surface.

With a near-perfect transfer, the movie looks excellent.  It’s vibrant at times, dulled colors when needed, no artifacts or black crushing that was obvious.  About the last third of the movie was in either low lit of very dark settings.  Also, no EE (edge enhancement) at all and the blacks are black.  I’m very impressed with how “clean” the video looks.

However, the complaint about the video is the very little CGI in the film does not appear realistic at all.  Sometimes that can take away from the movie but it was short enough that it’s a not an issue.  It doesn’t feel forced but necessary to slightly drive the film.

Like the video, the sound is encoded very well.  The audio track is a lossless DTS HD-MA that is why consumers purchase Blu-rays.  As said before, this film is set in the deep south where there is a lot of ambient noise.  The audio is loaded with insects and wildlife you would find there.  It’s subtle but definitely consistent, making a more tangible environment. The deep bass also doesn’t sound overpowering.  There is no unnecessary rattling in the sub-woofers but very smooth especially when there’s driving and you feel the engines.

Another plus about the audio is it’s very even.  There was no overpowering changes in the soundtrack causing need to adjust the volume.  The gunshots are loud as they should be so they  do startle you without blowing your ears out.

Here are the few extras on the disc:

Audio Commentary with writer/director Rod Lurie

Courting Controversy: Remaking a classic-The cast and crew discuss remaking a cult classic.

The Dynamics of Power: Cast/The Ensemble-The cast gives how they perceive their characters and their dynamics.

Inside the Siege: Stunts/The Ultimate Showdown
How the put the end scene together.

Creating the Summer House: Production Design
Making the house for the movie.


My score for the overall is mostly for the actual release. There was a lot of care mastering the film for Blu-ray.  I believe Sony simply wants consumers to make the upgrade and thicken up the library.  The excellent video and sound will not disappoint the home theater.

The home release was the chance to expand on the plot but until a Director’s cut sees the light, it leaves you wondering.  There is a good film in here with a lot of potential, but it just didn’t seem to pull it together.  Catch the dual meaning of the plot, it might suck you in.  If you like a thriller with plenty of suspense, then this is a movie for you.  Give it a rent and see for yourself.  I will say it is really a test to how far can a person be pushed before they push back.  Makes you wonder, how far would you go?

Straw Dogs on Blu-ray – Purchase Here

About the author

MEDIA JOURNALIST | Michael is a fanatic about all both cinema old and new. He collects anything from 1:6 Scale, 1:12 Scale, and vinyl Collectibles plus Slipcovers and Steelbooks. He loves pop culture, writing, reviewing films & collectibles, and journalism. An avid Batman, The Joker and anything comics junkie, he will also chat it up about pretty much anything. Go ahead and ask...