Monday 7 February 2011


This remake of the notorious video nasty is now out on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Watch the trailer and read my review, next...

Hoping to finish her novel in peace, young writer Jennifer (Sarah Butler) rents a remote cabin in the woods. Disappearing after a brutal and life-shattering attack from a group of local hicks, Jennifer returns to wreak some havoc and destroy their lives in the most creative and nasty way possible.

Based on the 1978 original that gained some notoriety in the UK by being banned by the 1985 video recordings act, this remake tries to recapture the horrific violence and brutal rape scene that made the original so talked about. It's a somewhat pointless venture to remake a film that carries with it such a bad reputation; if you make it softer no-one's going to want to watch it, and if you make it more visceral and gory people are going to raise some questions about your mental well being.

Here, much like the recent remakes of Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, they've chosen to retain the key elements that made the original known, whilst making it more appropriate for modern audiences. For I Spit On Your Grave that means introducing a video camera to the proceedings and making the scenes of revenge look like something out of a Saw movie.

As is evidenced on the poster, this film is keen to show that its leading lady is an attractive young woman, leering over her (often literally with a camera) in the early stages of the film. It may be setting the scene for how her attackers feel, but trying to get your audience to relate to a gang of rapists is certainly a new approach. FYI, the image depicted on the cover may faithfully recreate that of the original, but it never actually happens in the film.

The brutal and sustained attack Jennifer is subjected to is certainly disturbing, but does seem to come completely out of the blue. Her only crime is being a naive "City bitch", so the film resorts to yokel stereotypes to justify the reason behind her attack. I didn't quite manage to count how many fingers they did or didn't have, but this film stops just short of giving them all banjoes and mullets. This is certainly exploitation, but it's our perceived expectations that are being used.

Once Jennifer embarks on her campaign of revenge, the film changes pace quite dramatically. Whereas the first half of the film took its time showing her to be a fragile and weak girl, Jennifer returns as an understandably changed person, dishing out swift revenge in a suitably ironic and vicious fashion. She may be seeking some justifiable revenge, but appears to be getting a disturbingly large amount of sadistic pleasure from her oddly creative methods of torture. She's took her time to create fitting punishments, like a junior Jigsaw.

Despite whatever message the original and the remake claim to have, I Spit On Your Grave is less about female empowerment and more about appeasing the horror-hungry crowds with violent and gory imagery, making it an uncomfortably cold, methodical and shallow experience.


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