While Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs challenged viewers either to embrace Dustin Hoffman’s passive mathematician as a man of non-violent principle or deride him as cowardly and hypocritical, Rod Lurie’s remake, which replaces Hoffman with James Marsden as a mild-mannered screenwriter bullied by brutish hillbillies, dispenses with the ambiguities and – ta-da! – misses the point.
It begins, of course, with the box, a curious-looking device on which rests a large red button. It arrives on the couple’s doorstep along with a calling card, under the cloak of night. But why?
A stranger arrives at their door the next day with an offer too tempting to ignore. Press the button and collect a million tax-free dollars, in cash. The catch? Someone – comfortingly, another stranger – will die.