Monday, February 7, 2011

Film Deviant Review: I Spit on Your Grave: Unrated (2010)


First and foremost...I would like to take this opportunity to mention the original 1978 film, I Spit on Your Grave as a film I watched about a decade ago during a period when I was watching 60's/70's exploitation horror. It was a film that shook me a bit and I understood why it was so notorious and shunned. The film is about a woman who gets brutally gang raped by a group of hillbillies and then comes back after being left for dead to seek revenge on said group of hillbillies. While the film didn't scare me as much as other horror films did, it certainly left its mark in my psyche. I mention the original film and its impact on me because I don't want to compare it to the remake and dwell on the original for the entirety of this review.


The only thing I will say before I go into my review of the 2010 version is that while the remake maintains most of the same beats as its predecessor, it never relents on the more gruesome revenge parts as the original did. In fact the original dragged the rape scene on for quite a bit of its running time while skimping a little on the revenge scenes. I didn't feel as satisfied in seeing the assailants get theirs in the end. It almost felt as though I was a little cheated in the original. If you've seen the original....then, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't...then, I suggest you stop here...go back and check that one out first before you proceed. I understand that it was another era and it was important to really show the brutality of the attack in which to accept the outcome of the film. In the remake...we already know about the attack...so, there really is no need to dwell on that. Instead the viewer is treated to all the elaborate revenge scenes that the original was missing.

Having said all of this...


I Spit on Your Grave is a great film that exceeds most films of this nature. While it is not your typical revenge/feel-good uplifting film full of morality, it goes full speed into that darker place of humanity that explores what we are capable of when pushed to that certain limit within all of us. In this case...that limit is a very taboo subject not really explored in film. Rape. Probably the worst four letter word in the English language. Once you are aware of the subject matter you go into the film flinching and twisting and knowing all too well what is yet to come. Nothing comes close to the brutality of rape in any film and this is the best reason that the 1978 film never needed a remake. However, this 2010 version stands on its own. Usually I'm one that goes into a remade film with a very skeptical and critical eye. But, not this film. I had no problem separating the two films and judging this new version on its own merits.

Sara Butler stars in the lead role of Jennifer Hills, a writer who takes a trip into the deep south in which to write her next book. She rents a huge vacant cabin secluded deep in the woods from none other than Earl, played by Tracey Walter whom you will surely recognize as the bumbling thief from Conan the Destroyer. It's good to see Walter still getting work in high profile films. Speaking of long forgotten actors...Rodney Eastman shows up as "Andy". Any avid horror fan will remember him as "Joey" from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors. So, Jennifer stops off to get some gas and we are introduced to the group of hillbillies in the film who are licking their chops at this new city girl that has driven into their backwoods town. While staying up at the secluded cabin, Jennifer's plumbing gets backed up and the mentally deficient Mathew (played by none other than Chad Lindberg of The Fast & The Furious) comes out to fix her pipes. After doing so, Mathew tells the rest of the group and all hell ensues.


Sara Butler is a talented young actress that deserves some praise for this film. I only hope that playing a rape victim that exacts revenge on her assailants isn't the peak of her career. I gotta say...she's fucking hot in the film. Unfortunately, this film doesn't necessarily reward her for her hotness. While she does exemplify what a young woman should look like, she also displays a very capable talent for acting. In the scenes before the brutal gang rape, she is portrayed as a very innocent young woman looking to write her next book. In the scenes after, she is a cold calculating killer that doesn't give a fuck about pity. Quite an impressive feat for any actor.

The hillbillies are played convincingly by the aforementioned actors as well as Jeff Branson as the ringleader, Johnny. Daniel Franzese as the video camera freak, Stanley. And Andrew Howard and the dirty douchey sheriff. There's a scene during the inception of the raping where the sheriff takes a call from her daughter to inform her that he'll be home later and might not make it in time for church that speaks volumes about his character and it is acted in such a nonchalant way that could only be done by a good actor. In fact all the little details from each character are handled very well by all the actors given the basic premise of the plot. I think that in less capable hands, this film would have been a disaster. But, right down to the cinematography, the film is handled masterfully.


My only complaint of the film, which incidentally is one of its strengths, is the very basic nature of the plot. Girl roles into town. Girl is raped. Girl gets her revenge. That's basically it to the film. There's no real depth in what we are watching. However, because of its very bare-bones plot we are treated to the heart of the film in such a meaty manner.....the revenge. This is where the film excels. I've read most reviewers mention a comparison to films like Hostel and Saw in terms of the execution of the vengeance. I think this to be an unfair comparison because in those films, the torture worked as a sort of gimmick. In I Spit on Your Grave they are what you came to see. Unless you came to see the rape scenes, in which case you should stop reading my review and swiftly swallow a handful of razorblades right now. But, yeah...there's a scene where Jennifer shears off one of the sicko's dicks and promptly feeds it to him. Cinematic gold. I sincerely wish shit like this would happen to perverted sex offenders in real life. Fuck jail. Fuck treating and rehabilitating them. Just cut off their dicks and feed it to them. Watch how fast the sex offense rate would go down.


In the end...I Spit on Your Grave is a really well made film and an enjoyable one. Enjoyable in the way that I loved watching a man who does unspeakable things to an innocent woman get a shotgun rammed up his ass. In a world where more frightening horrors happen all the time, one can only hope that those horrors are met with cold vengeance.

I Spit on Your Grave (2010) gets a solid 9 out of 10.

Recommendation: DVD/BluRay Purchase



Thanks for reading,

bryan.

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