Monday, October 24, 2011

I Spit on Your Grave (2010)

Directed by Steven R. Monroe.
2010. Not Rated, 108 minutes.
Sarah Butler
Jeff Branson
Andrew Howard
Daniel Franzese
Rodney Eastman
Chad Lindberg
Tracy Walter
Mollie Milligan
Saxon Sharbino

Jennifer Hills (Butler) is a novelist about to begin to working on her next book. She looks a little young to be on a “next” book but nevermind my ignorant biases. To get some solitude in which to work she rents a cabin way out in the middle of nowhere. She plans on staying there for several months…all alone…dun dun dun duuuunnnnn. Lost, she stops for gas and directions. While there she laughingly dismisses Johnny (Branson), the local yokel who hits on her. Over the next few days, Ms. Hills writes a little, drinks a lot and here’s plenty of things go bump in the night. Meanwhile, Johnny stews over being rejected thanks in no small part to lots of teasing from his buddies. At some point during all this one of them sneaks up to the cabin and gets some footage of our girl in her undies. After getting a look at this Johnny and the boys spring into far more deplorable action. Just so you’re up to speed, this ragtag bunch is made up of Johnny, the big guy who always has his video camera rolling (Eastman), the guy who thinks he’s handsome (Franzese) plus the mentally challenged and constantly reluctant Matthew (Lindberg). Much to Jennifer’s chagrin, they are soon joined by the town sheriff (Howard). A gang-rape ensues. Make that two gang-rapes.

Horror and revenge movie buffs are keenly aware that this is a remake of the cult-classic 1978 flick sometimes known by the same name. It also goes by its original title Day of the Woman. It might be one of the earliest entries into the genre that would eventually come to be called torture porn. The plots of the two films are identical. What the choose to emphasize is not. The three acts of both are as follows: 1) spend a little time with the heroine in and around the cabin while the boys work themselves into a lather 2) gang-rape and 3) revenge. Where the original loses people, and perhaps gains others, is the excruciating detail and protracted length of the rape scenes. We watch this poor girl being brutalized in uncomfortably realistic fashion for an overwhelmingly large chunk of the movie. Though the whole movie is fairly short, her dehumanization seems to go on for hours. This is why many have labeled the original one of the most depraved films ever made.

The remake takes a different path. We still get the rape scenes and they’re still plenty unsettling. However, they feel shorter in this version and certainly more stylized with fadeouts, echoing voices and the such. They’re enough to make the point and access our appetite for blood. The real emphasis is not only on her revenge, but how she gets it. By the way, I don’t consider anything I’ve written a spoiler. Knowing what happens is irrelevant to this movie. The question is: Do you want to see how it happens. To this end, each of her assailants is made to suffer mightily before their demise. In an interesting twist, the way she disposes of them has something do with either their personality or their role during the rape. Gore hounds will love it since we get into some pretty gross territory, here.

This brings me to my biggest technical gripe with I Spit. I’ll only speak of the technical side because the debating the morals and ethics of this movie could take several days with no resolution. A lot of what Jennifer does obviously required lots of moving unconscious men around over various distances. All of them are heavier than her, by quite a bit in some cases. In at least one instance, probably two, lifting appears to be involve. Unless she has the help of a movie crew (wink), it seems highly improbable, if not impossible she’d be able to do these things. I know, it’s a movie so roll with it, right?

After we’ve been disturbed to our core, the question remains. Is it any good? That depends on your tolerance for the sheer sadism of the acts depicted. Like the original, it fancies itself a “girl-power” movie. However, I can’t imagine either appealing to the majority of women. Is it better than its predecessor? I’d say they’re roughly the same, giving a slight edge to the original. Taken for what they try to be, I enjoy both. For exactly the same reason you may hate them.

MY SCORE: 7/10

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