Wanting to get away for a while to work on her novel, author Jennifer Hills decides to stay at a remote cabin with a beautiful view to get herself motivated. However, a group of men soon set their eyes on her, and after they violently rape her, she seeks out bloody revenge.
Yes, that’s right folks, there was a remake of the horror classic I Spit on Your Grave (also titled Day of the Woman, because people have never been good at being subtle with messages and themes) that’s so infamous nowadays. Haven’t heard of the 2010 version yet? Or you just haven’t seen it? Yeah… You’re not alone. In part because this wasn’t shown in that many theatres when it originally came out last year, and also because it was pretty much punched in the face by critics universally (it didn’t even make $600,000 at the box office), no one ever seems to really talk about this film much; the original gets all the love (or, well, maybe “love” is too generous. It’s the one that gets talked about much more). While I don’t think it deserves the panning it’s received (I enjoy it well enough, but then, I’m also a tad twisted, so there is that) I do also understand why a lot of people may not like it. Let me elaborate.
First and foremost, this movie is… well… how do I put this… It’s really freakin’ sick. I just want you to think about I Spit on Your Grave‘s general premise for a moment right now; the first half or so basically consists of the buildup to, and then the actual happening of, a brutal, horrible, graphic gang rape that isn’t at all for the faint of heart, and then the last half is the main character’s revenge on her attackers as she slowly tortures and kills them, also not for the faint of heart. Yeah… It’s not exactly Mary Poppins. The whole thing is basically one giant ride of violence and torture, and if that sort of thing is something your sense are already rejecting without having even seen it yet, then, well… stay away from I Spit on Your Grave. And I don’t mean “stay away” in the horror movie sense where it actually means the exact opposite. I mean STAY. AWAY.
Of course, if you’re like me and just aren’t right in the head because you enjoy these kinds of movies – hello, Hostel – then you, my friend, are in luck! You’ll undoubtedly be satisfied by this film, just like I was. Now, I know what you’re thinking – how can anyone get that terribly much enjoyment out of this movie when so much of it is dominated by something that’s an unspeakably horrible issue in real life? Well, it’s true that this whole part in I Spit on Your Grave and what happens is terrible, but the one bit of satisfaction you can get from it is thinking about what will inevitably come after, undoubtedly the best part of the movie: The revenge. Ask yourself, who doesn’t love a good vengeance plot? And if you happen to be one of the few people to answer, “I don’t!” to that, then go away. I want nothing to do with you.
With the revenge half being the part everyone always looks forward to when watching I Spit on Your Grave, a lot was riding on this segment and how satisfying it was. You’ll be happy to hear that this was all utterly fantastic and even surpassed the original in how creative Jennifer got with her “punishments”. They’re not necessarily as original as the kills in the original 1978 movie, but psh… Who wants realism? All we want as viewers is an awesome, over-the-top way of a few scumbags getting what’s coming to them. And that’s what we got in plentiful amounts. These “punishments” (I can’t think of a better word) are so good that I don’t even want to spoil any of them for you, but let me just say that they were graphic enough that one of them made my stomach feel a little queasy for a second – and for me, that reaction is about as rare as you can get.
The acting, unfortunately, ranges from average to bad, being one of the weakest factors of the entire film. This is mostly noticeable with actress Sarah Butler, who, of course, played “badass from rage” Jennifer Hills. There was something about her performance that just didn’t… click. She was very meek and lifeless sometimes, with her new found lust for revenge definitely feeling forced. She didn’t have the fire in her eyes that Camille Keaton (the actress who played Jennifer Hills in the original 1978 film) did. In this version, it felt like Sarah Butler was just PMSing, while in the original I Spit on Your Grave you could tell Jennifer was enjoying every second of it (as well as being pissed too, of course, but there was an elation there that was unmistakable).
I have to give credit where credit is due, however, and admit that there was one part where she fit into the role perfectly; the very last shot of the film. I won’t give away too many spoilers as to what the ending involved – even if you’ve seen the original film, you won’t know exactly what happens here just from guesswork since some things are certainly added – but all in all, this was also one of the best parts of I Spit on Your Grave in general, mostly because of the things they make you ultimately wonder about and speculate on.
As far as the sub par performances, the same pretty much goes for the antagonists of the film, the rapists. It’s sort of like the Last House on the Left syndrome: They’re still scumbags you want dead, yes, but they’re more generic scumbags you want dead. These guys were all much more trashy than creepy, something that can’t really be said for the original group (even if they had their share of sleaziness). Just look at the guy who plays the harmonica in both films; in the 1978 movie, it had the effect of being very ominous and, like I just touched on, creepy. In this version, however, it’s a different case, with it feeling like they just slapped it into the 2010 movie so they could have something be the same as a reference to the original. It wasn’t effective and it simply didn’t stick with you.
On top of this all, we have the film’s plot in general, which at times just didn’t make sense. Take Jennifer’s “death”, for example. To get away from her attackers when they prepare to kill her, she jumps into the flowing river beneath, undoubtedly with many sharp objects that could have easily killed her. Not only does she survive – while she’s still hurt and disoriented, by the way – but she stays beneath the surface so long that her attackers think she’s dead and leave the spot to go search for her body in other parts of the river. Okay… My question is, how did she actually survive? And how did she ever get her clothes back on since she was naked when she jumped in? One of the attackers mentioned going back to possibly burn her entire cabin down to get rid of all the evidence; how’d she get clothes in that case? I somehow can’t see her taking a quick trip do Kohl’s to go shopping after what happened.
To reiterate, I did enjoy I Spit on Your Grave, mostly because of the amazing revenge part and great ending. But since there were so many things wrong with it, I also know it wasn’t necessarily a good movie, and unless you enjoy a certain type of film – the kinda twisted type, if you want to get specific – you may very well not like it.