The Surprising Link Between Home Alone and Straw Dogs
While it's a beloved (and family-friendly) holiday classic, there's still no denying that Home Alone's self-appointed vigilante, Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), kind of resembles a tiny towheaded version of mathematician David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman) from Sam Peckinpah's 1971 film Straw Dogs. Both characters resolve to defend their abodes at all costs, and in the absence of real weapons rely on makeshift ones to fend off their respective intruders.
Unlike lightning, great ideas can—and often do—strike Hollywood twice. But Home Alone wasn't created in a vacuum, production designer John Muto told Slate in 2015. In an interview, he acknowledged parallels between the two films, saying that, “I kept telling people we were doing a kids version of Straw Dogs."
Home Alone is notably less graphic than Straw Dogs, the latter of which contains sexual assault and plenty of blood. There aren’t any visible injuries in Columbus’s film, aside from a burn here and a glue-coated feather there. Still, Muto says he initially thought that a few of Home Alone's more cringe-inducing physical stunts wouldn't make the final cut. They did, thanks in part to Julio Macat, the film's director of photography. He, himself, appreciated physicality in movies, and gave Harry and Marv's painful comeuppances the go-ahead.
If you think about it, Sumner’s boiling oil and bear trap aren’t too different from Kevin’s tar and hidden nails, aside from the fact that they result in body counts. So no, you weren’t delusional if you ever compared the two films. Even still, you should probably refrain from pointing these similarities out to those who can't get enough of Home Alone’s fuzzy happy ending.