Now, if ever a film needed a remake, a bit of polishing up and effort put in, then I suppose I Spit on Your Grave would have be one of the top of the list. Let’s be honest, the original is a poor attempt at a film, with dreadful editing that sadly made the film more laughable than shocking. I mean, when you’re trying your best to be unsettled by a girl being raped by four guys, and the screen keeps showing the same person doing EXACTLY same facial expression or looking in EXACTLY the same direction, even though everyone else has already moved, it’s hard not to laugh, and this level of stupidity is there all the way through the original “Video Nasty” version. So, I agree that the film was desperate for some TLC and an “upgrade”; however, after experiencing the remake I will admit to not wanting to see it again in a hurry. This leads me to my first question; it’s about director Steven Monroe’s intentions. See, the original film is pure and simply made for shock purposes, nothing more. The plot is thinner than Christian Bale in the Machinist, there is no point to the whole thing, no reason, and certainly no moral justification and even though the poor girl gets her revenge, do two wrong necessarily make it right? I’m waffling to make a point, and my point is this: back in the 70’s, all this rape and torture stuff was relatively new, and audiences were able to go and experience these things for the first time, in a way it was exciting, thrilling even and the fact the original is so damn crap and yet is so damn well known just proves the point that shock tactics work. But, in today’s climate of extreme violence in movies, shock tactics don’t work anymore as just shock tactics, you have to give them meaning otherwise you may be regarded as a bit mental. Christ, even Saw came up with the odd justifiable reason for all the violence. So this leads me to my point, I Spit on Your Grave has no meaning, it’s simply violence for violence sake, and I just hope the director’s intentions are sincerely to improve on a ghastly shite older film, and not to give audiences something to actually enjoy…
Now please, don’t get me wrong, I love my violence in films but there is nothing to actually enjoy here. It’s a difficult film to watch, and with one half focused on the girl being tormented, abused, raped and bullied, and the second half all about her revenge, it doesn’t leave much room for plot, character development or anything else really. Like its predecessor, it’s simply shock for shock value and one I’m sure you will find hard to admit to actually liking once you’ve seen it, well, publicly at least. To be perfectly honest with you I found it a tough watch, but for all the wrong reasons I did find it a very well made film and a considerable improvement on a flawed original. I can’t ever admit to enjoying this film, but I can tell you that it is very well directed, perfectly acted, brilliantly produced, full of menace, threat and countless unpleasantries. If you’re idea of a good night in is to be shocked and made to feel uncomfortable as hell, then I Spit on Your Grave is most definitely for you. If you wanna see a film where the bad guys get their just desserts, then I Spit on Your Grave is most definitely for you, and if you wanna see Sarah Butler naked, for all the wrong reasons, then I Spit on Your Grave is 100% for you!!
Sarah Butler plays writer Jennifer Hill and she has booked some time away in a cabin out in the countryside to get away from city life to concentrate on her book. Stopping for gas and directions, she meets three local lads, Stanley (Daniel Franzese), Johnny (Jeff Branson) and Andy (Rodney Eastman) who seem pleasant enough as they flirt in that country folk charming way. Jennifer looks uncomfortable at their advances and clumsily causes Stanley to fall over which in turn causes him embarrassment in front of his mates, not a good start. Suddenly the mood turns nasty and Jennifer heads off to her cabin. The plot here is pretty much identical to the original with only a few minor changes; most notably the inclusion of a fifth member of the gang, but the identity of this person will create a spoiler I’m not willing to share. Jennifer is one hot girl that’s for sure, and the camera spends a fair amount of time ogling her in her bikini sunbathing, or washing her wine stained shorts in her underwear, something one of the gang members is also filming on his mobile phone (see, this is now an up to date version with all new technology like mobile phones and laptops!!). Anyway, the shots of Jennifer half naked, and then her wanting to give handyman Matthew a kiss on the cheek for fixing her plumbing (because he’s mentally handicapped and she feels sorry for him) all lead to another question of the director’s intentions. The original used these same ideas, but back then would have just been brushed off, but in today’s climate of justifications and reasons, these simple errors that could easily have been left out, almost look like the director is saying she asked for it? Either way, once the country boys start talking on a night out drinking and fishing, and with the handicapped Matthew telling of how she tried to kiss him, it’s clear the girl is to blame. As Stanley coldly announces “these city girls are all cock teases, who the fuck do they think they are!”
You all know where this now leads, and if you found the original version upsetting, then you haven’t seen nothing yet! Before I get into all that, let me just point out that so far Sarah Butler has done a fantastic job with her role, and the four main lads have been played exceptionally, they are vile, hopeless creatures who present themselves with true and real menace and disrespect. They are not nice people, and you don’t want them to be nice people, and you actually find yourself not wanting them to go to that cabin. Oh, yes, the director has changed how the violence comes about. Gone are the childish antics of quite literally fishing for their victim and chasing her through the woods making Indian noises, and in are vicious intensity and unbearable threat as they trick her into leaving the cabin, only to return to find them all inside. What follows is shocking, vicious, sickening and unsettling, and what makes it worse is it’s played for real. By that I mean there’s no Hollywood style over the top antics, it’s cold, calculated and it builds on the threat before bursting into some of the most horrific scenes you will see all year. But, what makes it even worse is Butler’s incredible performance, she gives her character a heart, she turns her into a real person with feelings and a sense of not knowing what to do. Spending most of the verbal threats staring at the ground knowing there is no way out, and with the lost hope that just maybe these guys will just leave her alone. She knows they won’t, we know they won’t, and when tears start to roll down her eyes you suddenly start to feel very very uncomfortable watching this.
I won’t go into details, you know she gets raped and beaten and it’s savagely done with absolutely no remorse. Hunted down quite literally like a dog, she jumps in the river to escape and the rapists desperately try and find her to make sure she’s dead. The only person who gives her a second thought is the handicapped Matthew, and when one of the rapists has the audacity to claim “you know, I think he might even be feeling guilty”, you sit back and think, fuck me, guilty? Really? I feel guilty just for watching this. And the problem is, there are people out there who probably feel the same way, who will probably “get off” watching this, rather than be shocked. Anyway, Jennifer does come back and she’s turned into one mean bitch as she takes her revenge in some of the best and most deserving torture scenes I’ve seen since the last torture film I watched. Again, to go into details will spoil the fun. Shit, did I just say fun? I meant to say shock value! It will spoil the shock value, but let’s just say wherever she was hiding before coming back, she must have rented the entire Saw series and watched it every day to come up with some of these ideas.
To be honest, I found Jennifer to take a little too much pride in her work, to enjoy it a bit too much, but hey, she was the same in the original. She cleverly memorised many of the rapist’s taunts and turned them against them after she dishes out one act of brutal revenge after another. As with the earlier violence, some of this could make you bring up whatever you ate last. It’s glorious in its sheer passion to do harm and it flaunts its revenge in a way that will more than likely have the viewer throwing his, or hers, hands in the air and screaming out “Again!!!” Jennifer’s revenge is well deserved, but let’s not forget the point that it’s also entirely wrong. Gaspar Noe made an entire film based on the idea that for every action there is a reaction, and that you should think about that reaction before actually doing it. I Spit on Your Grave turns that on its head and clearly states, for every reaction, make sure you plan it out as coldly and viciously as possible so that it has maximum impact on the person it’s intended for.
So, in conclusion, I Spit on Your Grave 2010 is a bloody excellent remake and one that will finally put the bitter taste of what can only be described as one of the worst Video Nasties in history to rest. It has been updated for today’s market, offering more bite, more realism and most definitely more shocks. It’s an unpleasant watch, but one I’m sure most horror fans will be wanting to see regardless. I can’t say you’ll enjoy it, more endure it, but it’s certainly very well made, with both sexy and sinister characters. I often moan about remakes, but when the remakes are this good, it reminds me of why they get done in the first place, and it also makes up for all the pointless remakes that have been done. Remakes, every now and again, are a good thing, and I Spit on Your Grace 2010 is a good thing.
[pt-filmtitle]I Spit On Your Grave[/pt-filmtitle]