I Spit on Your Grave (2010)
By: J.R. McNamara on January 18, 2015 | Comments
Anchor Bay | Region B | 2.35:1, 1080p | English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 | 108 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Steven R. Monroe
Stars: Sarah Butler, Jeff Branson, Andrew Howard, Daniel Franzese, Rodney Eastman
Writer: Stuart Morse
Country: USA
I love the original I Spit on Your Grave (henceforth referred to as ISOYG for brevity). I think it is the perfect exploitation/horror film. In my movie collection, I have 3 copies on DVD (one with our very own C.J.'s review as an extra, and another has a quote from my review from this very website on the back), 2 on Blu-ray (an edited UK release and the aforementioned 'my review' one), one copy each of the remake and its sequel, one VHS, and one Beta copy. I also have several framed and mounted movie posters and lobby cards, the highlight being an Italian poster with the title: 'Non Volente Jennifer' which I have been told by different sources can translate to 'Non-Violent Jennifer' or 'Don't Hurt Jennifer' or the more controversial, and accurate 'Don't Rape Jennifer'.

Good advice.

ISOYG has all the great elements that an exploitation film should have: nudity, sex and violence, and some of the elements of great horror films: a fear filled and innocent protagonist, an aggressive and power-hungry antagonist, and the classic location: a cabin in the woods. However the thing I really like about it is its ability to scare me. First person ghost stories don't do it, slasher films don't do it, and monster films don't do it. That's not to say I still don't enjoy them, but I want a horror film to scare me, and ISOYG does it in spades, for two reasons. The two things I find scariest are being assaulted in one's own place of solitude, and dehumanising through violence and humiliation. ISOYG ticks both of those boxes. With bloody big red ticks!

So being a fan of the original, how did I feel about a remake? Well honestly, I was excited. The original, at the time of the release of the remake, was over 30 years old, and still managed to shock, so what could they do? The key was tapping into contemporary genre trope of torture, and this film hits that Saw/Hostel mark with gusto. But does it work?

Most horror fans should know the story, but for the neophytes…

Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler from Twisted Tales) is an author who has retreated to the woods to work on her latest novel, and is finding the solitude good for her creative juices. She does occasionally feel a little unease, but the quiet would probably do that to anyone. She has some problems with the houses plumbing, and the local company send out a young man of dubious mentality, Matthew (Chad Lindberg from The Fast and the Furious) to fix it. He leaves abruptly, when she kisses him in gratitude. Unfortunately, he is friends with a trio of good ol' boys, one of whom she accidently made a fool of, and another who has been sneaking around her house filming her with his video camera, and they decide to give her a nocturnal visit, and perhaps teach her a lesson.

A lesson that involves rape.

Realising that they eventually intend on killing her, she throws herself off a bridge and into a river, but survives, and plots her revenge, which she executes spectacularly.

Now those that may have already seen the remake may notice that there are some key elements I have skipped in this synopsis, but they are such good plot changes that I really couldn't spoil them. Though as a hint, one does have something to do with a mistake made on the original poster…

The acting is really solid in this flick, and the guys playing the hicks don't feel like your generic hillbillies one might normally find in this sort of film. Instead of having just the tough guy, the mentally challenged guy and a couple of other guys, this actually has well defined characters. Real cred has to go to Sarah Butler though, as the extensive torment she goes through, not just the actual rape, but the power tripping threats the men force upon her, would have possibly cracked a lesser actor (one of the extras does tell of a day she eventually did crack, but she then overcame the stress and continued with filming).

The film has a constant sense of dread throughout, and it almost feels like the colour palette is changed when it goes from rape to revenge. I actually initially had the idea that Jennifer didn't return from her suicide intact, but instead was some kind of avenging angel: perhaps she is both.

There are a few classic and recent horror clichés used, but they are performed in a manner that works its way insidiously into the story, and become part of the storyline. The 'phones don't work' cliché is actually a necessary part of the plot!

The revenge is satisfying for current horror fans as well. This is no quick hanging or cock slicing like in the original. This film takes its cues from torture scenes from other big franchises, and makes the revenge a detailed, carefully organised, painful and humiliating experience. At first I felt this was detrimental as there were no real indications that the female lead could be so resourceful, but then I thought 'What the Hell': let these bastards suffer, and make it fun for us, the gore lovers, to watch!

All in all I was completely satisfied with this both as a film on its own merits, and as a remake of a movie I really admire.
The Disc
Anchor Bay presents I Spit on Your Grave in 2.35:1, with a lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack.

This disc has a couple of good extras on it.

The Revenge Of Jennifer Hills: The Remaking of a Cult Icon talks to original director Meir Zarchi, remake director Steven R. Monroe, actors Rodney Eastman, Jeff Branson, Daniel Franzese, Sarah Butler, Andrew Howard and Chad Lindberg about remaking an iconic horror film.

There is a bunch of deleted scenes which possibly would have added something to the film, but realistically weren't missed. I did however, notice them gone after I watched the film for a second time. They were obviously cut out for nothing but pacing.

Also there is also a series of trailers and radio spots
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Going in as a huge fan of the original gave me low expectations, but I emerged liking this film and appreciating the update. The difficult thing for me is offering this effort the same respect I have for the original, which really seemed to have a lot to say, whereas this appears to be just entertainment/exploitation. Of course this will never, for me, replace the sheer terror of the original, but it did a pretty good job, and introduced me to a competent director, a brave actress and some actors who could be pretty despicable.
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