USA 2010 Directed by: Stephen R. Monroe Written by: Jeffrey Reddick Produced by: Lisa M. Hansen, Paul Hertzberg Cinematography by: Neil Lisk Editing by: Daniel Duncan Music by: Corey A. Jackson Cast: Sarah Butler, Chad Lindberg, Daniel Franzese, Rodney Eastman, Jeff Branson Andrew Howard, Tracey Walter, Mollie Milligan, Saxon Sharbino, Amber Dawen Landrum
Meir Zarchi’s I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE wasn’t really a discourse on gender roles or a prime example of female empowerment, was it? So I guess that doesn’t make the 2010 remake a film of highly ethical intent either.
Even by genre standards I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE was never a truly accomplished work, but simply the right film at the right time (just like THE SOCIAL NETWORK is now). Amid video nasties, changing global politics and increasingly confusing, drifting pop culture output and lifestyles it seemed to be the perfect moment to cater to those who rent even the most disgusting stuff from the dark corners of the local video store and at the same time piss off the mainstream as good as possible. It wasn’t enough for a new SNUFF though.
In the context of early 80’s horror I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE mostly lived off of its general idea, even more of its title I believe, and less of its sketchy execution: I still think that the name made people watch it in the first place, followed by its reputation and content. Seen in a larger context I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE was nothing more than a cheap re-imagining of John Boorman’s DELIVERANCE, so overall it got far more attention than it deserved.
While being anything but a real genre milestone, it’s now a classic and a bit of cultural heritage, and an update seemed to suggest itself. So here is I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE 2010, and it follows the path of many contemporary remakes. Essentially, the film is a polished 2.0 version, featuring surprisingly artful dramaturgy, cinematography, editing and acting. The standards are comparable to what you can expect from a 2010 horror remake, and bearing in mind the gritty subject the new I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE seems almost too commercial.
Its biggest achievement is probably that it’s still politically incorrect, nasty and brutal, an uncomfortable, relentless rape-and-revenge flick that spends half of its time on psychological and the other half on physical torture. The more sensitive among the viewers (although I can’t really think of any reason a sensitive viewer should end up watching I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE) will notice that the film spends a substantial amount of time “preparing” the prey for dinner time, including inflicting extensive terror before the climatic rape sequence. It is debatable if this a) provides better reason for the victim to kill the tormentors, or b) is an extensive indulgence of violence that consumes the largest part of the film’s running time.
From a cinematic point of view the pace and gradual increase in momentum works very well for the film, working its way up from a subtle, but always present threat level to an almost unbearable, intense atmosphere shortly before the rape. What follows then is an entire second act that replays the sequential dramaturgy of the first act, only this time everything is accelerated.
And now for the biggest letdown: I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is completely unrealistic and not believable as soon as the revenge part starts. It is highly satisfying though, especially as the character description of the bad guys is relatively well-rounded, but that probably only means it appeals to our lower instincts more than our Christian upbringing. Where the film’s narrative falls apart is when the innocent city-girl-writer becomes a super-heroine torturing the rednecks with the help of ultra-sophisticated set-ups, methods or weapons. I don’t doubt she is capable of dreaming that all up, but I don’t see how she’s able to execute it.
If you’re in it for the thrills and frills and furbelows I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is an ok genre flick that’s as good or bad as its contemporaries. If you mind a serious slasher turning comical in the second half despite all brutality you’ll find better examples of the rape-and-revenge bracket elsewhere.
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