Sarah Butler, Andrew Howard, Chad Lindberg, Daniel Franzese, Jeff Branson, Rodney Eastman
Steven R. Monroe
Meir Zarchi, Stuart Morse
NR (Extreme Violence, Sadism, Rape)
Audio Commentary with Director Steven R. Monroe and Producer Lisa Hansen
The Revenge of Jennifer Hills: Remaking a Cult Icon
Deleted Scenes, Teaser Trailer, Theatrical Trailer, Theatrical Trailer #2, Radio Spot
"I Spit On Your Grave" Review
I remember the first time I saw the original I Spit On Your Grave, a 1978 B-movie revenge flick in which a woman barely survives being viciously raped by a group of backwoods thugs and then goes after them one-by-one in extreme and relentless revenge.
Fortunately, I didn't see the film upon its release in 1978 as I'd have been youngster and likely left even more traumatized than my childhood already left me. However, by the time I did see the film in my young adult years I'd recently acknowledged being a survivor of violent childhood sexual abuse myself. To be honest, while I could never have denied the extreme nature of the film there was something about watching it that fueled my own revenge desires. Entertaining? Not in the least. However, there's always been this dark corner of my mind that carried a sort of perverted fondness for the film's unabashed revenge fantasy come to life.
Flash forward to 2010. As is seemingly the case for nearly every other film to come out of Hollywood these days, we have another remake on our hands and this time it's a colorized, stylized updating of I Spit On Your Grave directed by regular SyFy Network contributor Steven Monroe and featuring a cast of mostly unknowns destined to stay that way.
Now, I feel guilty.
I feel guilty that I ever watched the original film and even guiltier that I have carried within me all these year a certain appreciation for its "revenge" message of alleged female empowerment. Maybe it's the colorization or the amped up style...maybe it's just the fact that this updated version seems to focus more on the rape and less on the revenge. Maybe it's just the fact that I'm quite a few years removed from announcing myself as a sexual abuse survivor and I long ago figured out that violence, even in revenge, simply isn't the answer.
Whatever it is, I Spit On Your Grave is simply a horribly made, horribly acted and impossible to justify film in which the humiliation of human beings is masked behind a "revenge fantasy" that is as reprehensible as the original act itself.
For those who are unaware of the film, hopefully most of you, it involves Jennifer (Sarah Butler), a big city gal who heads out to an isolated cabin in backwoods Louisiana to work on her latest book. She stops at a seedy gas station, of course, to ask directions and, of course, runs into a quartet of hillbillies who clearly aren't quite right in the worst sense of it all. Oh, and of course she freely offers where she'll be staying and, well, surely you know the rest?
The boys will come callin', a ring leader with his right-hand man, another follower and, as was true in the original, a developmentally disabled man, Matthew (Chad Lindberg) who is clearly a victim of these bigger and badder men himself.
It is Matthew who will be forced to rape Jennifer first, but rest assured that each man will have his turn and each attack will become increasingly graphic and brutal. Finally, Jennifer will escape the cabin. When they find her and corner her with shotgun in hand, she jumps off a high bridge to her death, or so they believe.
Jennifer comes back and wreaks holy hell on each of her attackers in ways that are far more inventive than her own attack, less realistic yet no less brutal in manifestation.
The rape of a woman is without exception unjustified, but so too is the almost orgasmic way in which I Spit On Your Grave approaches Jennifer's relentless taunting and torture of her attackers, especially that of Matthew, who may very well be the most victimized person present in this film. Perhaps it is because Ms. Butler herself is simply an awful actress (and she is), but any semblance of moral justification in this film falls completely flat and what is left actually goes beyond the ridiculous torture porn as the Saw and Hostel films into a land that no film professing itself to be "entertainment" should go.
In fairness, but not to a degree that would cause this critic to offer this film anything other than an "F" grade, one must acknowledge that this film's technical achievements certainly surpass the original film. On the other hand, full color and upgraded technical abilities can't disguise the fact that there isn't even a remotely tolerable performance in the film. These performance are ultra-low budget film performances in a modestly budgeted film.
While it may have competition before year's end, for now I Spit On Your Grave is the worst film of 2010.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic