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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just saw the free screening. I'm glad I didn't pay to see it. Yes,
it's that bad. It is utterly pointless, horridly acted trash, a good
definition of pornography.
Now I know we don't go into a film called I Spit On Your Grave expecting Oscar worthy performances or brilliant dialogue, but we also don't go into such a movie expecting to yawn, which is what I did at least a couple of times. I saw the original back in 1978 at a Drive-In. Despite how controversial it was and how Roger Ebert ripped on it, I always thought of it as a really well made motion picture. The acting is decent, the atmosphere is creepy and the minimalist plot is well written. The original film engages because we believe the characters are human and we believe something this horrible could actually happen. This is not the case with the remake.
There are some major flaws that make this one too implausible to enjoy. Discussing the flaws of a movie with a plot that goes no farther than "men rape woman / woman kills men" cannot be done without including spoilers, so if you really care that much about the details of the rape and murders, stop reading this review.
First of all, the men in this movie are so immoral and have such a lack of conscience that they can't be related to whatsoever. In the original, Jennifer comes back to actually seduce the men before she murders them, and this is very telling about the men's characters. The fact that she can seduce them shows us how utterly screwed up they are, that they have convinced themselves Jennifer actually got some pleasure out of her rape and even wants some more. This made them somewhat complex characters, perhaps victims of a macho society, which allowed us to feel for them on some small level, making the revenge that is enacted upon them that much more brutal. However, in this crappy remake, the rapists are absolutely one dimensionally evil, making them pretty much inhuman objects and causing the retribution against them to be highly unsatisfying. Plus, in this remake, a fifth rapist has been added to the plotthe county sheriff no less. A sheriff with a wife and young daughter joins in on the sadistic torture of a young woman and we are offered no motivation for this, other than of course he's a redneck, so he must like to participate in forced anal sex, a standard set by the movie Deliverance. And all of this takes place as if it is daily routine, with no regrets or remorse. The character of the sheriff is so unbelievable that it subtracts from the film as a whole.
Another big flaw is the Jennifer character herself. In the original movie, she goes back to the city, recovers (an important aspect because then the revenge she seeks is much more premeditated), becomes empowered and returns to the scene of the crime to murder the villains. She arises as a hero because we get the sense that what she is doing is not merely personal revenge, but something that is necessary in order to keep something like that from happening to someone else, like putting a rabid dog down. But in the remake, we are suppose to believe that Jennifer dives into some water, magically disappears (was she a swimming champ?), is not seen for a month (during which she is supposedly living in an abandoned shack eating rats and snakes I suppose), and then suddenly comes out of the woods to enact a very intricate series of torturous murders. And she doesn't seduce her rapist into the bathtub to cut off the offending member, she relies on the old Hollywood cliché of whacking him over the head with a tire iron so that he conveniently passes out for an hour without a struggle, sort of like a cartoon character does, as this frail women who was beaten and raped and has been living in the woods for a month somehow drags him away and props him up into a contraption straight out of Saw part whatever. All of this is so unbelievable that by the time the brutality begins we don't really care. It is very hard to get any satisfaction out of a revenge film when it isn't taking place in the real world.
And about the revenge murders. They are way too literal. The guy obsessed with her teeth gets his teeth pulled out. The guy with the video camera gets his eyes plucked out. The guy who gives us the gratuitous anal sex scene gets a shotgun shoved up you know where. This Jennifer hasn't recovered. She's not empowered. She's become her assailants. Her revenge is not for the protection of the world; it's for the ego of the screenwriter. There is nothing shocking about the murders because we don't care about the characters and we don't believe Jennifer could pull them off to begin with.
In the absence of good acting, believable plot and character development, what we are left with is about two hours of brutal rape and torture. That's not filmmaking. That's just lazy. That's just trash. As audiences become more and more desensitized to this kind of trash, where is the future of horror films headed? Rape in 3D? After the long drawn out rape scene, the woman sitting next to me got up and left the theater. For a moment, I thought it was because she was so shocked by what she had just witnessed, but in a few minutes she returned with an order of nachos. You just have to wonder.
If you want to see a really creepy, well-acted movie about a young woman exacting revenge on a sexual deviant, watch Hard Candy, an extremely well written and believable film. I Spit On Your Grave (Unrated) is pure garbage compared to that.
My experience watching this remake of "I Spit on Your Grave" at the
Toronto After Dark Film Festival is one I'm not likely to forget. I
don't know the exact number of audience members I was with, but there
must've been over 500 of them. Two reportedly passed out, a few walked
out, and there were lots of cheering and sounds of disgust during the
gruesome revenge scenes the lead character Jennifer unleashes upon five
male hillbillies, who cruelly toy with her and rape her. I have only
seen a few films at film festivals, although none were like this; not
even last year's "Antichrist".
I've already described the basic plot of "I Spit on Your Grave", but I'll elaborate more. Jennifer is a writer who travels to a cabin in the woods for relaxation and to work on her next book. She encounters three of the men at a gas station on the way and they immediately show signs of not taking kindly to her. A mentally handicapped friend of theirs named Matthew comes to her cabin later to fix her toilet, which she also conveniently drops her cell phone into. The three other men decide to teach this city girl some kind of lesson and have Matthew lose his virginity to her, but he's sympathetic. It all seems familiar to the original 1978 film, which I didn't care for. There are differences, however. One is ironic as there's a fifth man involved, who's a corrupt sheriff. In the original, there are four, but the poster tagline mistakenly says, "This woman has just cut, chopped, broken and burned *five* men beyond recognition". The irony with the remake is probably intentional. It may seem like Jennifer's damaged cell phone doesn't even matter, but it's hard to believe the rest of the law enforcement in the town might also be corrupt. Well, I can give a bit of leeway regarding the cell phone because there probably wouldn't have been a film, otherwise.
I wouldn't dare spoil the revenge scenes, but they're more brutal than the original. I don't even want to describe them because of how sadistic they are. Watching them, I felt depressed and repulsed, yet amazed since they feel realistic. As you may have guessed, I didn't cheer with the audience. Despite what these men did to Jennifer, I felt kind of sorry for them. It's like she's treating them way worse. I was lucky enough to briefly speak with director Steven R. Monroe afterward about my different reaction and he told me you're suppose to feel that way. I was kind of relieved, to be honest. I don't remember if he told me not to tell people that, but if he did, I'm sorry. His film is indeed horrific and I don't see what's so wrong about revealing his intention.
This remake is about as simple as the original, but the remake's made better, including the acting. I felt more emotion throughout the entire film. When the men at the gas station break into Jennifer's cabin and toy with her, there's genuine tension. That goes for other scenes that have mystery to them. Jennifer's fear and despair is definitely visible when she's abused and trying to escape. Yes, the characters are pretty one dimensional, but I don't always need great development to take interest. Ambiguity is nice to have. There's actually an interesting twist to the sheriff I won't reveal.
There's unfortunately predictability to this film, like a few minutes of when Jennifer first encounters the sheriff and what she says to the men when she turns the tables. I had some trouble believing that the shed by her cabin happens to be filled with... well, let's just say unsubtle items. The flaws certainly didn't stop me from being shocked and I even was a little queasy after I came home. That really doesn't happen even after watching such graphic and disturbing films as "Cannibal Holocaust", "Salò or the 120 Days of Sodom", "Ichi the Killer", and "Philosophy of a Knife". *There's* a marathon for you. (Just kidding.)
Did I truly like this film? Yes, I did, but it'll probably be several years for me to consider seeing it again, which would mainly be to see how much its shock wears off. If my review has made or helped you to be curious, hopefully you have a good idea of what you're getting into. Before I met the director, I somewhat unexpectedly got a poster of Jennifer holding a hedge clipper shown in the theatre. The director even signed it with my name. It was nice of him, but I won't be putting the poster up in my room. No siree.
'I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE' (2010): Four Stars (Out of Five)
Modern remake of one of the most controversial films of all time 'DAY OF THE WOMAN' (which was it's original limited release title in 1978, it was later retitled 'I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE' to capitalize on it's notoriety when it was given a major release in 1980). The film and it's 1978 predecessor both deal with rape, savage torture and murder. Both films have been highly criticized because of this with critics like Roger Ebert giving both films a zero star rating and calling the original a "vile bag of garbage". Almost an equal number of supporters (of the original film), including high profile critics, have raised their voices in defense of the film as well, with many labeling it a misunderstood masterpiece. Opposers of the film claim that it's man hating (with reports of some men walking out of the theater in disgust at both films) and some also accuse the film of glorifying violence against women (for it's violent rape scenes). Defenders of the films claim the movies are 'pro women' feminism and cathartic. People have been debating these issues for thirty two years and they'll probably go on debating them for longer than that and that's a good thing. If a movie causes that much discussion you have to give it some respect just for that.
Both films tell the story of a writer named Jennifer Hills (played by Sarah Butler in the new film and Camille Keaton in the original, Keaton is the grand-niece of Buster Keaton and won a Best Actress award for the role at the 1978 Catalonian International Film Festival) who heads to a cabin in the woods to work on her next novel. Once there she attracts a lot of attention from some hooligan hippies which eventually escalates in them braking into the cabin, raping her repeatedly and leaving her for dead. She unknowingly survives the viscous attacks and seeks out brutally sadistic revenge on all of the men involved, including a mentally handicap young man who was coerced into involvement by his buddies.
The remake was directed by Steven R. Monroe and written by Stuart Morse. The writer and director of the original film, Meir Zarchi, served as an executive producer on the film. Zarchi has said that he was inspired to make the original film after coming across a young rape victim in New York and escorting her to the police (which he says was the wrong decision considering how incompetent they were in the matter) and later the hospital for assistance. He defends the violence of the film as being completely necessary and rejects any criticisms that it is exploitative.
As far as the remake compares to the original film it's technically far superior on every level; it's better filmed, acted, written and directed (the original film had to manage with a much smaller budget though). The new film also shortens the rape scenes, in comparison to the much more explicit original, and relies more on psychologically implied imagery (which I think was a smarter decision). It also elaborates and extends the violent revenge scenes with much more creative deaths (much like many popular horror films). Where as the first half is more realistic and believable the second half branches much more into 'grindhouse' style revenge fantasy. While the film is much better than the original in all those ways it'll never be as remembered and cherished as a cult classic by fans.
I personally don't agree with the film's critics or it's supporters. I don't think you're supposed to necessarily agree with the heroine's actions or condone them and I definitely don't think you're intended to agree with the assailants' actions (that's a ridiculous argument). I think the film raises a lot of thoughts (most of them unpleasant) and discussion which like I said is something the films deserve credit for. A movie should never be judged by the actions of the characters within it, so however disgusting and disturbing they are (and in these films they're atrocious) it doesn't mean that they're bad films. I think both films are well made to a certain extent and effective at what they attempt to do. They're definitely not for everyone and very hard to watch but they're also memorable and dialogue inducing.
Watch our review show 'MOVIE TALK' at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgaAYiwY0g0
If ever there was a candidate for banning a film it's this. It's not
giving anything away to reveal that there's a rape scene in this film
but be warned it puts anything you saw in "Last House on the Left" the
remake to shame. Graphic doesn't even begin to describe what the
audience are subjected to by the voyeuristic intentions of director
Stephen Monroe as he puts the audience in the front row seat for almost
two hours of pure abuse.
But this is a good thing. Surely rape is visceral, brutal and sadistic and this film embodies all these elements. And once the reported revenge begins it's even more brutal than anything done to her.
Superb and bold performance from Sarah Butler in a role that is probably considered by most to be career suicide. When her character takes revenge it truly is the stuff that nightmares are made of and some scenes made me cringe for at least an hour afterwards.
Watch this one at your peril.This is highly recommended only for those who sit through a showing of cannibal holocaust without vomiting. Strong stuff indeed.One of the few examples of a remake vastly improving on the original.
Back in 1978, the film I Spit on Your Grave (also known as Day of the
Woman) provoked controversy due to its violence, gore and for daring to
show a woman taking revenge on her own hands against the louts who
raped her. As the time went by, the film became into a cult classic,
not so much due to its intrinsic merits, but for having been censored
(or forbidden) in many countries, something which helped to make it
more popular. Personally, I respect its influence on horror cinema, but
into the sub-genus of "female revenge", I prefer movies like Thriller:
A Cruel Picture and Ms. 45, because I found them to be better written,
acted and directed.
However, I Spit on Your Grave (1978) is definitely an intense and visceral experience thanks to its semi-amateur manufacture, rural locations and realistic style. Besides, the revenge methods from the main character seemed like a direct answer to the then rising slasher cinema, something which brought an additional level to the narrative. So, with all that "cultural baggage" carried by I Spit on Your Grave, how would a modern remake work? Considering the standards of the contemporary horror cinema, we can be sure that it will be more brutal and cruel; but would it reach the same historical and emotional impact from the original film? Even though the answer ended up being "no", I have to admit that on its own merit, I Spit on Your Grave (2010) is a disturbing, satisfactory and very competent horror film.
As I expected, I Spit on Your Grave (2010) adds more blood and some new narrative elements. Some of them feel a bit irrelevant (for example, the destiny of the camera with which the rape is filmed), but other ones deepen into the private life from the villains, revealing the hypocrisy of monsters who disguise their evilness with a facade of respectable civilization. However, the biggest change is made on the main character's revenge, which adds a very interesting psychological component to the movie. Fortunately, I Spit on Your Grave (2010) remains within a plausible field, and even though it follows the torture-porn formula, the cruelty and grotesque violence feel justified and organic in the story. I truly appreciate the fact that screenwriter Stuart Morse found an appropriate variation which respects the original formula, at the same time he added a new subtext which avoids the film from being another hollow torture film.
So, despite not being a great horror film and having some fails, I Spit on Your Grave (2010) is a very interesting horror film which ended up being better than I expected. The first half of the film is very disturbing and impossible to "enjoy" in the conventional sense of the word; however, the second half is cathartic and very satisfactory, compensating the suffering we had to go through previously. In conclusion, I recommend it unless you are a sensitive person.
I remember watching the original 1978 "I Spit on Your Grave" earlier
this year and thinking that it packed one hell of a visceral punch
while also carrying quite an angry proto-feminist slant. Yeah, it was
obviously a low-budget exploitation horror picture with a strong
feminist subtext, but it was both shocking and challenging on a deep
emotional level - challenging everything you thought you knew about
humanity, justice, violence, and revenge & retribution.
Anyone who watches the film with an open mind will indeed find a powerful and angry film, one that takes no prisoners, nor does it try to play it safe for the safety and comfort of the audience. It was meant to shock, horrify, and provoke strong reactions and discussions.
These are things that the original "I Spit on Your Grave" (originally titled "Day of the Woman") and its 2010 remake of the same name, directed by Steven R. Monroe, have in common.
While sharing the same set-up - about a beautiful young novelist from the city named Jennifer Hills (played by Sarah Butler here, Camille Keaton in the 1978 original) who retreats to the backwoods to write her latest novel and is assaulted by a gang of country lowlifes and later exacting brutal, bloody systematic revenge against them - the remake is still very much a very different film. (It's a much better-made film, with better acting, writing and directing, and has better special effects. It's less raw and rugged, but it's somehow slightly more enjoyable.)
For one, the original 1978 "I Spit on Your Grave" and its 2010 remake are very much products of their time; Meir Zarchi, who directed the original and was also involved in the production of this film, was reportedly inspired to make the film after his encounter with a young rape victim back in the '70s. As such, he made a film that while it had an extremely low budget and no-name performers (though Camille Keaton was the grand-daughter of Hollywood acting legend Buster Keaton), was nonetheless compelling, challenging, and shocking. (How shocking, you ask? Well, movie critic Roger Ebert gave the film no stars and has been behind efforts to have the film both banned and blacklisted.) The original film, made in the wake of women's liberation, was also slammed as feminist propaganda - allegedly because it features a lone female exacting vengeance on her all-male gang of attackers.
By comparison, Monroe's film doesn't carry the same visceral punch to the gut that Zarchi's original did. It was raw, brutal, and ugly; and it was also saying something about victims and their attackers. But because horror films have been getting increasingly gorier in the wake of the "Saw" and "Hostel" films and their like-minded imitators in the "torture porn" sub-genre of horror, the violence here is really not all that shocking. The original film got by on its raw intensity alone, an element of the original film that was helped immensely by its low budget, which gave it an almost-documentary-style feel to it. The one drawback, however, was the original Jennifer Hills's all-too-convenient transformation from victim to avenger in too short a time frame.
As such, the 2010 "I Spit on Your Grave" seems to more or less conform to these current torture-porn movie standards, with Sarah Butler's Jennifer Hills character torturing her attackers in elaborately gruesome ways before finally executing them altogether. The one benefit of this is that a much longer time frame passes before Jennifer gets her sweet revenge, which makes her actions and subsequent transformation from victim to victor a little bit more believable. On the other hand, though, she's given to making cheesy slasher movie-style one-liners as she tortures her former tormentors to death.
Overall, while "I Spit on Your Grave" is a better-made film and I enjoyed it more, I didn't get that same level of intensity from it that I got from the original "I Spit on Your Grave." Because it abides more by contemporary horror standards, it lessens the overall impact. It is still, however, a valiant remake that was not a complete waste of time (like most horror movie remakes).
Remakes are a dime a dozen these days but when you go through your old DVD or video collection and you come across the 1978 original I Spit On Your Grave you cant help but think "not a chance they will remake this". But remake it they have and the storyline is a mirror image of the original but for some reason this new version doesn't seem to be as nasty as the original. The reasons for this might have to do with the fact that the actors can actually act, its shot in a cleaner, more professional manner and maybe most importantly of all : we are just not that shocked by anything anymore. With more and more films pushing the boundaries of violence and gore, this just doesn't offend as much as the original did in its day. Having said that its still a tough watch and anybody not familiar with the original and not a fan of this genre will find its extended torture and intimidation scenes very difficult to stomach, but with a title like I Spit On Your Grave this movie will only attract a certain type of viewer.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The ONLY positive thing that can be said about the remake of I Spit on
Your Grave is that it has made me realize how good the original is. I
never liked Meir Zarchi's rape-revenge shocker, but I now can
appreciate it for the gritty, basic thriller that it is. Remakes are
almost always pointless, but in horror cinema, remakes are an
opportunity new filmmakers to polish, upgrade and outdo the original.
In attempting this, director Steven Monroe has more or less made a
movie which lives up to the unfair negative press the original
received. In other words, it is a movie which is misogynistic,
exploitative and far sleazier than the the original.
Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) is an independent young woman who has rented a cabin in the wilderness to write a book. She gets unwanted attention from the local rednecks who eventually attack and rape her. After enduring several hours of sexual assault, she wanders off, lays low for a while, then takes violent, poetic revenge on her attackers in various gruesome ways.
Sounds pretty similar to the original plot-wise. So what are the significant differences that make this movie so horrendously awful? First, the character of Jennifer is turned from an average, likable young woman into a smoking hot model who also happens to be kind of a bitch. I found the character to be pretty obnoxious. It doesn't mean she deserves what happens to her, but making me not like her made it that much harder to care about her.
Secondly, the rape scenes, while not outright glorifying the rapes, are far more exploitative than the scenes in the original. My biggest gripe about them is the attempt to make sure Butler always looks attractive before, during and after the rape scenes. In the original, Camille Keaton looked like she'd been run over by a truck. Despite being completely naked there was nothing sexy about her appearance whatsoever. On the other hand, Monroe makes sure there's not TOO much dirt and blood on Butler's face and body, as he wants to make sure she still looks at least a LITTLE sexy. There's a conspicuous effort to get as many shots of her ass on screen as possible - and to make sure it always looks cute.
Third, the ridiculous revenge scenes. Here's where the movie basically stops being a remake of I Spit on Your Grave and becomes a rip off of SAW. Apparently being raped and beaten has shocked Jennifer into suddenly becoming an expert in the engineering of Medieval torture devices. Whereas she seduced and killed her attackers in somewhat plausible ways in the original (except maybe for the over-the-top outboard motor disembowelment), here her revenge is pure fantasy. She sets up absurdly elaborate mechanisms to torture and eventually kill her attackers. And the movie is so eager to hurry up and get to the third act bloodbath it leaves inexcusable pot holes unresolved.
I Spit on Your Grave UNRATED (as it is proudly titled) is not just one of the worst remakes I've seen, it's one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time. It's a waste of time and energy for all involved including the audience. Once again, in their attempt to make the "sickest movie ever made," a group of filmmakers have succeeded only in making a movie that is trite, boring and stupid.
I have a distant memory of the original film so I knew where this story
was going to. And seeing Hollywood has been doing a lot of bad remakes
the last few years, I thought here we go again, B grader! Val Kilmer
But I was wrong, it get's to it slowly, but hell it picks up fast! For the feminist out there avoid this at all cost, and for those with bad stomach control, don't have your dinner before hand!
The acting was spot on by all actors, enough gore to keep Ted Bundy smiling, and if brutal is your thing this film will get your vote.
At that my vote for this solid thriller/gore film is 8 out of 10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you have heard what this remake (or the original) concerns itself
about, you have probably correctly guessed that watching this movie
isn't exactly a "fun" experience. But if you view it as an "experience"
- that being how brutal rape can be - you'll probably consider it a
pretty accurate recreation of the crime, and well made for what it is.
How is it compared to the original? Well, this remake does do some things better than the original. While the budget may have been just $1.5 million, the production values are generally superior (though I did not like how washed-out all the colors appeared.) The part of the movie concerning itself with the revenge of the protagonist was more satisfying than how it was done in the original, partly due to the fact that we get to see the rapists really suffer before they ultimately die.
Though in some aspects, the original did things better. In this remake, it is never explained how, after the rape, the protagonist survived out in the wilderness for so long (and got things like clothes after all of her possessions were destroyed.) Also, in this remake, the transformation of the meek heroine to someone hell-bent on revenge was too abrupt and not convincingly played by the actress.
Overall, this remake can stand up to the original... though if you have the stomach or not to watch this exercise in brutality (or the original version) is something you'll have to determine on your own.
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