Lately, there have been a lot of unrated and highly controversial films hitting theaters. Hatchet II dropped a couple weeks ago and was yanked after only a few days, because of “low grosses” but we’re sure it had something to do with its unrated gore. Another film that has people horrified yet interested is I Spit on Your Grave, the remake of the 1978 film Day of the Woman (renamed I Spit on Your Grave). Should you risk seeing the grotesque revenge fest or should you see something else this weekend? Let’s see what critics are saying…
Young writer Jennifer Mills (Sarah Butler) retires to a mountain cabin to relax and work on her second novel. Mountain cabins are great places to spook yourself out, with any little noise as easily explained as being a critter as a boogeyman. But boogeymen is what Jennifer gets, in the form of four local men, one of whom Jennifer unknowingly emasculated at the gas station on her way into town. And thus begins the stalking, raping and revenge, in that order; more detail would be either a spoiler or redundant, depending on your reasons for watching. [Twitch]
Each killing is as protracted, humiliating, ingenious, gory, and downright poetic as any I’ve seen, and I’ve seen it all. We find ourselves in the position of the righteous torturer, only without the Geneva Conventions or a shred of doubt about the malefactors’ guilt. Yes, one of her rapists is a simpleminded innocent who was pushed to do the deed by his mates and his wayward, 25-year-old-virgin hormones; and he has spent the next month staring into the river, wracked by guilt. But would his elimination from this earth be a great loss?
As for the others, it’s only right to make them plead with her as she once pleaded with them. I especially like the way she handles the big guy with the video camera. She lashes him to a tree, sticks fishhooks through his eyelids to hold them open, and makes him watch his home movie of her ordeal. Then she guts a fish, flings the intestines on him, and watches the crows settle in for some snacking. Those birds do love a tasty eyeball. [Vulture]
The only thing lifting Zarchi’s film above Lewis’ tacky, if amusing, work is a thread of female empowerment that was nearly unheard of at the time. No white knight ever shows up to rescue or aid Jennifer; she plans and executes her revenge alone. One might argue that showing her rape is de facto exploitative; but there’s no question that it’s her justifiable revenge that provides all the pleasure. [Brand X]
Revenge is Best Served Cold:
Plus the film reaches a point at which the woman has received so much suffering that NO AMOUNT of crazy-painful revenge would be sufficient … which means the last thirty minutes of I Spit In Your Grave is little more than a soulless cacophony of random screaming, pleading, and suffering. And while the gory special effects are rather impressive in their own right, they’re being misused in the service of an ugly little retread that’s more than content to follow along in the footsteps of a grindhouse flick that’s probably better left forgotten. [Fearnet]
The Characters and Suspense:
By the time the second rapist is midway through his 10 minutes or so of writhing in pain, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE loses even the cathartic charge of seeing grotesque violence meted out against characters who deserve it. Because there’s nothing else going on—no suspense, since we know the story requires that each of the miscreants is fated to die horribly, and no character-based tension, since we know there’s no possibility of rescue or redemption. The movie is, as Roger Ebert once wrote of the original, simply “a filmed record of perverted behavior.” A well-filmed and well-acted record, to be sure—to the point where both the rapes and the revenge are as excruciating to watch as intended. But, as I’ve written before, true horror is about the conflict between light and darkness—and the light goes out of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE by the end of the first reel. [Fangoria]
Well, there you have it. Are you interested in seeing I Spit on Your Grave any time soon?