Thursday, August 18, 2011

my thoughts on.... 'I Spit On Your Grave' (2010)

A while back, I wrote a fairly extensive review (by my standards) on the 1978 film 'I Spit On Your Grave' aka 'Day Of The Woman'. Meir Zarchi's exploitation epic is nortorious for many reasons and virtually wrecked the career's of a lot of the people involved. Well, somebody thought it would be a good idea to remake it and play with fire. I suppose with the release of the remake of Wes Craven's 'Last House On The Left', that it just seemed like the right time. Both are similar in tone, topic and end results. I've never really been a fan of films involving rape. I respected what the original was trying to do, but I can't say that I enjoyed it. Because of my experience with it, I was very slow to watching the remake. I'm kind of glad I didn't rush into it. After finally seeing it last night, I realized that I really needed to be in the right mind set to experience it. It is hard to watch and extremely graphic. Steven R. Monroe not only set out to remake the original, but to up the ante as well. I think that he also did something the original didn't do.... made it feel less like and exploitation piece and more like a revenge/empowerment piece. This version would have been more aptly subtitled, 'Day Of The Woman'.

The plot follows the original almost to the letter. There are a couple of subtle changes, but I imagine they were approved by Meir Zarchi as he was a producer on this film. The changes don't affect the overall story a lot, but if you've seen the original, it might throw you off a bit. The plot, according to "Writer Jennifer Hills takes a retreat from the city to a charming cabin in the woods to start on her next book. But Jennifer's presence in the small town attracts the attention of a few morally depraved locals who set out one night to teach this city girl a lesson. They break into her cabin to scare her. However, what starts out as terrifying acts of humiliation and intimidation, quickly and uncontrollably escalates into a night of physical abuse and torturous assault. But before they can kill her, Jennifer sacrifices her broken and beaten body to a raging river that washes her away. As time passes, the men slowly stop searching for her body and try to go back to life as usual. But that isn't about to happen. Against all odds, Jennifer Hills survived her ordeal. Now, with hell bent vengeance, Jennifer's sole purpose is to turn the tables on these animals and to inflict upon them every horrifying and torturous moment they carried out on her." I think that sums it up completely.This film is a revenge story 100%. This is classified as a horror film, but the horror is all too real. There may not be a masked killer or a terrifying ghost, this film boasts monsters that exist and could possibly be people you've already met. One of the things the Mr. Monroe does differently than the original is to add a 5th party to the rape and attempted murder of our lead. I won't tell you who it is, but let's just say that he adds another level to the whole ordeal. It also adds another level of horror to the flim, as this person is possibly the last person you'd expect. It's a nice addition and what that I honestly didn't see coming. Another thing that's different (obviously), but I think better.... is the new leading lady. Camielle Keaton was great in the original, but Sarah Butler takes this character and brings it to a whole different level. She radiates off the screen and exudes so much emotion and eventual strengh. She automatically became a new favorite actress for me. Granted, she's not done much to speak of, that doesn't matter.... she has a bright future ahead of her and if I was making a film, I would hire her in a heartbeat. The setting, the cabin and the bad guys are all very similar to the original. It even feels the same when you watch it. This is a more modern take on the 1978 version, we have cell phones and computers.... but when it comes down to the final revenge, it's all old school. Yet another positive for this film.

The killings that our 'hero' Jennifer Hills carries out in the end are brutal and well deserved by the bad guys. What they did to her and the amount of time they terrorized her, earned them a lengthy stay in hell and she drags them down into that pit very slowly. The original boasted a lengthy rape scene, nearly 45 mins. The remake isn't quite as long, but still extremely graphic and hard to watch. What both films suffered from was bad poster design. Why do we need the rear end of a woman, half naked holding a knife? It just glorifies the wrong aspects of the film. Other than that, I felt this was a solid 4 out of 5 stars. I don't know if it has repeated watching written all over it, however I think it just might. I would never recommend this to a general audience. This film is for hardcore viewers only. This is a film that will stick with you and make you rethink staying alone in a cabin, especially if you're a beautiful woman. Just check your brain at the door during the scene with the crows.... they look a little too fake to me.

After thought: In the 78' version, Jennifer uses her sexuality to lure the rapists into situations of trust. Once they're in her realm, she dispatches her own brand of justice on each one of them. They never tried to kill her in the original version, they just let her go, expecting her too be to ashamed to say anything. Therefore, it makes it easier for her to convice them that she wants to be with them after the fact. In the 10' version, they attempt to murder her, but she escapes. She hides out plotting her revenge for 1 month before returning. She doesn't come to them trying to convince them of anything.... she hunts them down one by one and kills them slowly and painfully. They have no idea that she's even still alive. It seems much more believable to me and a lot less like they were trying to exploit Jennifer in the modern version. It's just a thought I had and something that I felt needed to be pointed out.

If you feel this is a good film, please watch: 'I Spit On Your Grave' (1978), 'The Brave One' and 'Extremeties'

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