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I Spit on Your Grave (2010) - Movie Review

3 Stars

i Spit on Your Grave Movie Review

Roger Ebert, back in 1978, referred to the original I Spit On Your Grave as “a vile bag of garbage” and essentially condemned the movie, now a cult classic, to Hell. To his credit, it was disturbing and intense and certainly – with its graphic rape factor – not for everyone, yet it understood what it was doing and, as a result, became the flagship of the exploitation genre. It also had a female lead you could root for. Unfortunately, I Spit On Your Grave (otherwise known as version 2.0), directed by Steven Monroe, doesn’t present us with either a clear understanding of what it is or a female lead worth caring about. Instead, you are left with a film so gratuitous in both rape and violence that you actually hate yourself for watching it.

"you still don’t care enough about her character to applaud the little bits of revenge she enacts"

Talk about brutal. I Spit On Your Grave is an unflinching look at the disparity of humanity in the wilds of the uncivilized world. The backwoods hillbillies, with their guns and their booze and their lust for blowjobs and handfuls of ass, in Monroe’s remake makes the Ned Beatty rape scene in Deliverance look like kindergarten. That’s only one of the most shocking aspects of this film. The other is – in spite of what happens to Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) – you still don’t care enough about her character to applaud the little bits of revenge she enacts upon her attackers. That’s a big mistake for a film that operates on a rape/revenge storyline. It also makes the exploitation factor inherent in the original a modern-day mute point, which – when you do the math – means the film can’t successfully operate as its filmmakers intended.

Jennifer needs a vacation. She needs to get away and finish the book she is working on. As the film opens, we are introduced to her. One thing we quickly understand about her is that she’s a klutz, always dropping things (cell phones and such). This isn’t an endearing quality. It’s obnoxious because you know how it’s going to service the needs of Stuart Morse’s screenplay. You also quickly realize that, if this story is to be believed, Jennifer can’t possibly arrange the revenge traps. She’s not clever enough.

After accidentally embarrassing Johnny (Jeff Branson) in front of his gang of grease monkey hooligans, Jennifer arrives to her cabin of isolation. It’s exactly the place she needs to drink her booze, smoke her weed, relax a little and write her book…until Johnny’s gang shows up to pay her a visit and de-flower a mentally-challenged young man named Matthew (Chad Lindberg). Yes, the rapes are brutal and graphic and certainly not for the weak of heart. The men make her suck a bottle, a gun tip, and a shotgun, all in an effort to mimic the action of fallatio. Disturbing? Insanely. Then, when all hope is lost, the rape continues with another chance encounter in the spooky woods of Louisiana. At that point, all bets are off for Jennifer’s survival. Like crossing past a line of yellow police tape, you continue watching and moving forward at your own risk.{googleads}

And Monroe’s camera records it all. Jennifer is raped no less than five times. Three of which are documented on-screen. Now, supposedly these extremely harrowing events are documented in front of the audience in order to justify her detailed revenge, but some might argue that being raped once is certainly a justification for her revenge. In retrospect, her revenge seems all too easy; too quick; and way too problematic when compared to the horror of what she is put through. Certainly, more time could have been spent on the traps she concocts, rather than the brutality of the rape…but it isn’t.

Now, what works well in this remake are the gooey physical effects. The blood spatter, the gore, even the scene of castration is all quite effective and nausea inducing enough to make even the biggest gore-hounds appreciative of the technical aspects of Monroe’s film. Most of the limb and body effects are of a practical quality and – in this day and age of CGI blood – it’s quite nice to get some realistic splatter on the camera lens. The photography, courtesy of Neil Lisk, is also nicely stylized, echoing the moral black-or-white center that gets up-ended about twenty minutes into the film. Muted and bleak, I Spit On Your Grave certainly looks as unholy as its title suggests.

Unforunately, where the film loses its impact upon its audience is with the detachment in the handling of Jennifer’s revenge. We simply don’t care enough about her character to appreciate the bloody revenge aspect of the narrative. We are never given the chance. It’s a shame because that miscalculation makes the remake a victim of its own exploitative nature instead of the champion it should be.


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