I Spit On Your Grave (2010)

AUGUST 28, 2010

GENRE: RAPE-REVENGE
SOURCE: THEATRICAL (FRIGHTFEST)

I actually just watched the original I Spit On Your Grave for the first time a few days ago, as I knew I'd be seeing the remake at Frightfest and wanted to see them "in order". As you can probably tell by the frequency of reviews with the rape-revenge tag here at HMAD, I'm not exactly a big fan of the rather limited sub-genre, and I knew enough about it to know that I had seen pretty much everything the movie had to offer in its trailer. But I have been hearing good things about the remake, and I am happy to report that I agree: this is a superior film to the 1978 one in just about every way.

Much like the (also superior) Last House On The Left remake, it's essentially the same movie, just better (at least for the most part, more on the changes later). It looks nicer, it's shot better, the actors aren't lousy, and the villains aren't complete idiots. I mean, yes, they're still morons who think it's a good idea to rape someone, but when she gets to her revenge portion, they don't all just assume she's OK with them and willingly go along with her into bathtubs and such. We have to suspend our disbelief a bit (OK, kind of a lot) to buy that she can lift these dudes into suspended traps and drag them around, but at least it otherwise doesn't come across as a cartoon, as it did in the original (seriously, one guy actually grabbed onto the boat motor in the 1978 one!).

The film also has some genuine suspense throughout the film, on both sides of the equation. EVerything in the original was just so matter of factly presented; there was no buildup to either her attack or her revenge. But here, director Steven Monroe (yes, the one who directed Sasquatch Mountain. He's improved.) effectively builds suspense from her original isolation and her eventual attack (she even manages to escape from them before anything bad happens, only to make things worse for herself). And then when it comes time for her to get her payback, she fucks with them for a bit. One of the rapists has a family, and thus she sends them a tape of her attack, befriends the wife, and eventually "kidnaps" the daughter, driving the guy insane. It's a lot more interesting than watching her strip and get into a tub with one of them, anyway (not that I am opposed to Sarah Butler showing skin - this is one insanely beautiful woman).

That particular rapist is played by Andrew Howard, who makes his second Frightfest appearance (he's also the main villain in the non-horror Isle of Dogs), and his character is not in the original. Perhaps it was inspired by the oft-mistaken tagline from the original film that promised FIVE men instead of four, but it's probably the biggest change in terms of structure. Since he is the sheriff, she goes to him for help, unaware that he's the worst of the lot, and it's his paranoia that drives much of the group's actions once they realize she might still be alive. I just wish they hadn't cast Howard in the role - he's a good actor, but as soon as he appeared I knew he was bad, rendering the next 10 minutes weightless, as they are trying to make you think he's on her side. It's like, just get on with it, there's no way he's a good guy.

Another improvement is that she kills them in "movie satisfaction" order, saving Howard for last. In the original, she killed the worst of the lot 2nd, rendering the climax a bit unsatisfying, as she was taking on two borderline anonymous folks. It'd be like killing Hans Gruber in the first reel and having the final showdown be against Tony or Franco. And she gets ironic payback against all of them - the guy with the video camera (he likes to "watch") gets his eyes plucked out by crows, the one who sodomized her gets a shotgun up the ass, etc. How she became such a torture maven is a bit unclear (someone with these survival instincts should have been able to get away in the first place, no?); more than one person I spoke to after the screening said that she should have been a horror novelist or screenwriter, which would have been enough to justify this particular aspect of the plot (I countered that maybe she just liked to watch the Saw films).

Another minor blunder is that she is characterized as a complete klutz. She spills wine all over herself, gets lost trying to find the place, drops her phone in the toilet, etc. - how is it she can manage to set up a wired shotgun trap without blowing herself away in the process? But this is where Butler's casting pays off - she's so personable and cute, you just go along with it. Or at least, I did.

And even though this was an edited (albeit only slightly) version, it's still pretty messy. They don't do as much damage to her face this time (woo!), but she does a number on the five guys - I don't think I've ever seen so many shots of drool/blood pouring out of people's mouths in a single movie, all the result of her taking bats, pliers, needles, and yes, acid to their faces. And while it's actually less disturbing than the geyser of blood coming from under the water in the original, the obligatory castration features a mangled prosthetic (and then some), which of course got a huge round of applause (as did just about all of her revenge actions).

Speaking of the applause, the movie is a bit morally questionable. We cheer for her torturing these guys, even though she's actually being tougher on them than they were on her. You never really feel BAD for these assholes, but at the same time, I couldn't help but wonder how the film would be received had the sexes been reversed. So it's sort of a "crowd-pleasing rape movie", which is just odd. I myself don't really care - the fest has been a bit short on "stand up and cheer" movies. Plus I wasn't really expecting anything too upsetting; as soon as I saw the film's tagline ("It's date night"), I knew that they weren't going for the same sort of "serious" approach as the original, and the rape scene is much less painful to watch (it's shorter and partially off-screen). But I'm not sure if others will find it as acceptable. I guess we'll find out soon enough; Anchor Bay is releasing the film Stateside very soon. Perfect date film?

What say you?

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

6 comments:

  1. Ha. I was just reading the comments on your Last House on the Left remake thread and there's a 2008 comment from me that makes a crack about this being the last movie that needs a remake. And yet, here it is. And, yeah, I have to say I'm curious about seeing it, though it's not entirely my type of horror.

    Do I get tired of being wrong? Yes. Yes, I do.

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  2. Hahahah that is awesome!!! Just keep your mouth shut about us not needing a remake of Jaws or ET! :)

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  3. I also saw I Spit on Your Grave for the first time fairly recently (within the past year or so). I also feel similarly about the Last House on the Left remake versus the original. However, I do think the original ISOYG is much better than the original LHOTL. While the performances in general suck, I thought Camille Keaton was pretty good. I liked the movie after I got through the rape scene(s), but would never watch it again.

    I'm not a huge fan of rape-revenge either, so I'm only half interested in this movie. But your favorable review means I may give it a shot...it just may take me a couple years to actually get around to it.

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  4. I'm excited to see this film now.
    However, one thing I liked about the original, was that the rape scene was so brutal.
    Because, rape is a brutal, terrible thing, and I think too many movies show it for only a few moments, so you don't really get to be in the character's head and to really understand how traumatizing it is for the victim.

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  5. Well, I happen to like revenge films of all stripes and the ones from the 70s are hands down the best, gritty and downbeat. And nothing is more horrifying than the rape-revenge subgenre. That's the point of the whole enterprise: to horrify. The LHOTL remake was weak sauce compared to the original (David Hess DID have a somewhat comparable actor in Garret Dillahunt however-though Dillahunt never got to be half as memorable as Krug in the original). This doesn't look to be any different. It'll look "pretty" and the acting will be "better" and I'll be bored to tears by the entire thing. Everything about this just sounds stupid and crap. She kills with SAW style goofiness and the rape scenes aren't as nasty. Great. What's the point? If you show a rape make it as dehumanizing and agonizing as possible. Then have the revenge be similarly dehumanizing and swift. This remake sounds like a turkey to me.

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  6. a woman is supposed to be sacred and treated gently. to be forced upon in one of your most intimate areas in an unwelcome way is almost indescribable. the act of sex is supposed to be wonderful, loving, and fun. so to have not just one but 3 complete strangers force themselves inside of you in such a painfull way and humiliate you in such a way is just... can't even think of a word. i've never been raped but i was repeatledly molested by my mothers boyfriends sons when i was 5 till i was 7... im glad i don't have too many memories of it but when it comes to this topic..i'm all for a guy getting what he deserves. i personally think all rapist should be castrated anyways. once a rapist always a rapist.. they are never cured.
    i know sometimes having sex with my husband if he accidentally goes in at the wrong angle or something it will hurt pretty bad sometimes.. (any guys that thats happened to with there women or women know what im talking about) just think what it would be like if that were to happen over and over and over by someone like that. that is some serious pain right there that can cause permanent damage...so like i said i'm all for guys getting what they deserve when they do some thing like that.. the guy getting the shot gun up that ass was and getting to see what it was like to have something shoved up your ass when you don't want it i think was the best part besides the one that got castrated and had his own dick shoved into his mouth...

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