If you take a look at the poster for the original or the remake and thing that what you’re about to watch in a movie call I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is going to be enlightening or fun, you are dead wrong. There’s something you can take out of the performances, sure, but make no mistake you are not meant to enjoy most of what’s happening here, especially not in the first hour or so. Revenge movies can be tough to pull off because you have to sympathize with the victim and that’s tough in today’s theatrical films that are too scared to show controversial gore and violence let alone rape, but the remake of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE does a great job of building up and making you feel for the protagonist. Such a great job that when the dirty deeds start being done it’s going to make your stomach turn.
Jennifer (Sarah Butler) is a writer looking for some peace and quiet to write her new book. She’s on her way to a secluded cabin until she stops for gas and attracts some unwanted attention. A group of men venture out to her peaceful getaway and terrorize her, rape her and leave her for dead in the woods after she jumps into the river. Time goes by and the men see no trace of Jennifer’s boy until she returns to inflict the relentless and brutal revenge scheme.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is sick; it is sick and depraved in some of the worst way I can imagine, but also in some of the best. It’s not the most disgusting and morally reprehensible movie I’ve ever seen, I’m looking at you A SERBIAN FILM, but it is most definitely a tough film to stomach. I can’t say that the violence in the last half of the film is overly graphic, but it is pretty tense and visceral. The first hour or so you’re introduced to Sarah Butler’s character, we watch her interact with some creepy backwoods dudes and watch her go through her daily routine of jogging, drinking and writing her book. It’s at that point when we see the creepy rednecks come back in the picture and state their devious intentions and for the next 20 minutes or so watch in horror as they taunt, terrorize and brutally rape the innocent girl. It’s impossible to take any joy in the middle section of the film; it’s full of guys forcing a woman to drink and enact oral sex on the barrel of a gun and a bottle of alcohol while the guys have a good laugh at her expense. When you think it’s over she gets thrown right back in the horror as you’re exposed to her being brutally violated by five men. In this span of time while you’re horrified this is happening to the poor girl you can also rest easy cause you know these lowlifes will get theirs; and that is where most if any of the enjoyment comes.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is conceptually similar to Wes Craven’s LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT as well as the recent remake, except with a specific difference. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is a revenge story of the victim inflicting a horrible brand of justice on people who raped and tried to kill her rather than her loved ones taking them to task. Both of these are stories that don’t interest me on a personal level since violence towards women in general sickening, but as a fan of film, horror movies and revenge stories the film appeals to that part of my personality. Since this particular brand of violence resonates on a visceral level for me and it’s done realistically I found the film incredibly powerful and actually taking pleasure in the protagonist’s revenge while also feeling the pain of everyone involved.
The content in this film is incredibly divisive and I can easily see how turned people will be by the violence on an extreme level and the voyeurism on a less severe level. It’s the plausible nature of the attack on Jennifer that makes the film as powerful and disturbing as it is and the harassment she endures before being raped only compounds the horror. An hour into the film we switch from a focus on Jennifer to the antagonists and the revenge begins to build. Jennifer’s revenge is swift and brutal; none of her actions are explicitly violent as most happens off camera and you see the gruesome result. The violence is still shocking however, and very effective.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE has no real practical use except maybe as a rehabilitation technique you show accused rapists as a means to deter them from these acts of violence, but as an exercise in visceral horror it is an extremely powerful and effective film. Sarah Butler and Andrew Howard both give standout performances. The level of violence and exploitation will likely be too much for most discerning viewers but for those that can stomach the visuals it is undoubtedly a memorable and haunting experience.